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The Papua Region Becomes a National Development Priority 

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By : Veronica Lokbere )*

Development in the Papua region is being actively carried out, so that there is no inequality between eastern and western Indonesia. Since being led by President Jokowi, the Indonesian government has focused on advancing the Cendrawasih Land and making it a priority. Development in Papua is prioritized because the area has enormous natural resource potential.

Bumi Cendrawasih was once synonymous with an area that only contained forests and the people still wore koteka. Even though this negative stigma has been erased, because in several areas of Papua such as Tembagapura and Jayapura it is already modern. Papua is no less advanced than other cities on the island of Java.

The government is indeed active in advancing Papua and making it a priority. Now the results are visible. There are various infrastructure developments such as the Trans Papua Road, Sentani International Airport, and the Youtefa Bridge. The existence of this infrastructure facilitates the transportation of Papuan civilians, so that they can move between cities smoothly.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo emphasized that the current development is Indonesia-centric and Papua is one of the development priorities. The government has built the 3,462-kilometer Trans Papua Road, 1,098-kilometer border roads and the 1.3-kilometer Youtefa Bridge in Jayapura. Then, Domine Eduard Osok Airport in Sorong also had its terminal repaired, an airport in Wamena was built, Jayawijaya. 

There were also cross-border developments in three locations, as I recall in Skouw, then in Sota, then finally in Yetetkun, in Boven Digoel. Everything has been completed construction by the government.

Furthermore, President Jokowi invited the Papuan people to participate in overseeing the development process in the Land of Papua. The President said that from 2014 to 2022, the budget allocation from the central, provincial and district/city levels for the development of Papua has reached IDR 1,036 trillion.

President Jokowi asked the people in the land of Papua, to oversee the development in their area. The reason is because corruption has become the scourge of all provinces in the framework of development in the regions. To develop Papua, the funds are enormous, therefore there must be strict supervision from its citizens.

So far, transportation problems have been constrained by Papua’s natural conditions in the form of forests and mountains. So inevitably have to use planes to transport goods and people. When transportation is launched by the Trans Papua Road, the price of goods can be reduced because the cost of transportation is cheap. People are relieved because they don’t have to buy expensive things.

People who see development in Papua need not worry, because it is guaranteed not to damage the natural resources there. Nothing was sacrificed, because the acceleration team would have consulted with environmental agencies beforehand. Moreover, in Papua there are protected animals such as the cassowary and bird of paradise, so development will not destroy their habitat.

The government also created a team to accelerate the development of Papua and West Papua. This team was created based on Presidential Decree number 20 of 2020. Team members consist of 6 ministers and 1 presidential chief of staff. Ministers and officials are on duty so that there is a stimulus that can advance Papua, so that it is no longer synonymous with backwardness.

The result of development in Papua is the low poverty rate there. Poverty has decreased from 55% in 1999 to only 22% in 2019. The drastic drop in the number of poor people is also the result of the special autonomy program that has been held since 2001. 

Meanwhile, academic from Cendrawasih University, Yane Ansanay, is satisfied with developments in Cendrawasih Earth. But there is a shortage in the field of education. In a sense, Papuan sons can go to college thanks to the special autonomy program. However, they should also be able to study at campuses in Papua, not only in Java. It is better if a Presidential Regulation is issued regarding the opening of new departments on the Papua campus.

According to Yane, the urgent departments to open are fisheries and agriculture. In a sense, students can study and become modern farmers. He not only cultivates crops, but also runs an agro-business and processes Papuan crops, such as sago, sweet potatoes, bananas, etc. While fisheries graduates can process fish and export it, and get more results.

In the field of education, the government has indeed disbursed funds through special autonomy. as much as 20% of the program’s budget is devoted to scholarships to Papuan sons. So that they can study up to university, not only in the country but also abroad. In addition, this scholarship is also given to those who wish to register to become members of the TNI.

Apart from the education sector, the government is also boosting infrastructure development in Papua. The Youtefe Bridge is not only a display, but facilitates transportation to the border with Papua New Guinea. More and more local tourists stop by this red bridge, thus making tourism in Papua crowded.

Development in Papua is a priority for the government. Papua is a region that has potential natural resources, therefore various infrastructures have been built there. With good infrastructure, the distribution and processing of natural resources will be better and the community will advance.

)* The author is a Papuan student living in Yogyakarta

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