President Jokowi apparently does not like going back on words, seeing how his Infrastructure Frenzy keeps on getting bigger and bigger. Just two weeks ago, one of biggest parts of Holtekamp Bridge arrived in Papua—some of the bridge parts are actually sent from Surabaya, East Java. Indonesian Government considered that Surabaya could provide more work safety and better quality of welded joints. Also, it takes 3 months faster than being made in Papua although the Freighter Ships need to pass through more than 3.100 kilometers of sea. Along with the bridge making, the development of Trans Papua road is also ongoing now.
The government believes that a good infrastructure will make everything easier and cheaper. This is no longer a theory. Previously the price of cement was IDR 800.000 per sack or a million if the wheatear is bad, but today it drops to half the price only because of the sea “toll roads” and other infrastructure development which make it easier for Papuans to get supplies from other developed regions. Reducing price of gasoline gives a significant advantage for Papua people as well.
Infrastructure is a real deal; Jokowi calls it National Strategic Program. In 2017, Mr. President completed at least 20 Projects; some of them are Paya Seunara dam in Aceh, cross-border post in Entikong, West Borneo, Gempol-Pandaan toll roads in East Java, Labuan Bajo airport on Komodo Island, and Mutiara airport in Palu.
From the west part of Indonesia to the east part of Indonesia, the archipelago is building itself with one spirit: the prosperity of Indonesian people. Indonesian government reported plans to allocate Rp404 trillion (US$30.23 billion) for infrastructure development in 2018. Yes, Infrastructure frenzy continues….
It looks like Mr. President knows well that it was not easy to seize the west part of Papua Island, becoming Papuan sweetheart on last presidential election, Jokowi never forgets how Papuan people trust him with their hopes. Slowly but surely, he makes the underdeveloped regions become the developing ones. Likewise, his approach to the society is sagacious. One of the Papuan leaders and the ex-Indonesian ambassador for Colombia, Michael Manufandu, witnesses how Jokowi is the president of Indonesia who visits Papua most frequently among all. “All rural areas were isolated for so long, but now they are so open. Today, people living in hills, valleys, and swamps area can go everywhere they want, easily,” he said in an interview on May 19th, 2017.
In the last August; the coordinator of Papua Peace Network, Pater Neles Tebay, also got a great opportunity to meet Mr. President face to face at Government Palace, Jakarta. On that event, he with some other Papuan leaders such as Father Herman Saud, Father Lipyus Biniluk, Father MPA Mauri, Fientje Yarangga, Ondoafi George Awi, Febiola Ohee, Miryam Ambolon, Yan Christian Warinussy, Ros Rode Muyasin, Jhon NR Gobay, Leonard Imbiri, Marinus Yaung, and Scholars Saiful Islam Al Payage sat at the same table with Mr. Jokowi. “It’s a new pattern. I have also met the previous president, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhono, but not as warm as this. We are all invited to discuss what steps we plan to have better Papua in all sectors” Tebay said.
On December 20th, 2017, president Jokowi had some agendas in Papua. First, he handed over people’s land certificate then proceed to Nabire to survey an area where a new airport will be built. Douw Aturure International Airport is designed to connect 8 regencies, they are Dogiyai, Paniai, Deiyai, Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, Puncak, Waropen, and Kaimana. It is expected to accommodate 15.000 travelers in total.
“Last night at a hotel in Sorong, I had lights off 3 times,” Said Jokowi on stage, when he gave a speech in the opening event of a new power plant in Nabire, on the same day. He later made a joke “If President got 3 times lights off, people must get 5 times lights off I suppose”. This power plant is expected to illuminate 74 villages.
Indonesian people must know that President Jokowi loves inviting global investors to support National Strategic Program. “Investors who want to invest in Nabire, Papua or West Papua or wherever it is, will dare to build hotels because electricity is well provided here. If we don’t have one, they will think 1000 times before investing. That’s why power plant can be the key to investment in Papua,” said President Jokowi.
Mr. Jokowi brilliant mind does not stop there. In his speech, he explained how electricity could help the education sector. If power plants are built, students can study their lessons at home at night, so Indonesian youths living in a rural area must get the same education as students in Java Island, for example, for them to get a brighter future. This expectation is surely related to Indonesian biggest dream itself, the prosperity.
Mr. President also stated, “Once someone told me that building Papua could be too much expensive. Yes, it is, it can be two times more expensive than developing Java Island. But it is not about whether it is expensive or not but the social justice for the whole society must be fulfilled.”
Indonesian motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning diversity in unity. Having many tribes, ethnics, and cultures will make various kinds of people, but the prosperity must be spread evenly from Sabang to Merauke, period.