Papua, Jubi – Indonesia has been hit by at least two major floods during this current transitional period from the rainy to the dry season, as high precipitation still occurs in several regions.
Floods have been reported in the provinces of West Java, East Java, Lampung, East Nusa Tenggara, South Sumatra, and Papua, among others. But East Java and Papua have been the worst hit by major flooding over the last several weeks.
In East Java, on March 5, 2019, floods triggered by heavy rains and the overflowing of several rivers, had inundated 15 districts and displaced nearly 12.5 thousand people, mostly in Madiun. Despite the widespread inundation, there were no reports of casualties.
In Papua, however, deadly flooding devastated Sentani and several other sub-districts in Jayapura District, and killed at least 112 people and rendered 94 others missing on March 16, 2019.
The natural disasters caused serious injuries to 107 people and minor injuries to 808 others.
A total of 374 homes, four bridges, five places of worship, eight school buildings, 104 home-cum-shops, and a traditional market were damaged. Furthermore, the natural disasters led to the displacement of 11,556 people.
The Papua provincial government has declared an emergency response period from March 16 to 29, 2019.
The Government has deployed a joint team comprising military and police personnel, among others, to continue search and rescue operations for the victims of the floods in Jayapura. Tens of NGOs have also volunteered in helping the rescue operations.
“Since yesterday evening, our volunteers have helped carry out evacuation, assessment and mud clearance in Sentani,” ACT coordinator Kusmayadi said in a statement, one day after the disaster occurred.
They also distributed some 1,000 packets of cooked food for the flood victims, and set up an ACT humanitarian command post and a public kitchen in Sentani.
As 94 people were still missing one week after the flooding, the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) held a coordination meeting to discuss efforts to expedite the handling of the impact of the flooding in the country’s eastern most province.
“This meeting aims to discuss and identify various issues concerning efforts to speed up handling and support for the rescue operations by the PMI during the emergency response period,” Sunarbowo Sandi, head of the PMI Headquarters, noted on March 23, 2019.
Arifin M. Hadi, head of the Disaster Mitigation Division of the PMI, remarked that the Red Cross had optimized services and endeavors during the rescue operations following the emergency response status.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the central and local PMI officers and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Meanwhile, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the Natural Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), noted in a statement in Jakarta on March 22 that the flooding was triggered by deforestation in the Cycloops area.
“Incessant heavy rains in the Cycloops mountainous area, whose condition had degraded, caused flash floods in Jayapura District and the surrounding areas,” he noted.
The local government in Papua has planned to relocate residents living in the Cycloop nature reserve area in a bid to avoid future flash floods.
Papua’s Governor Lukas Enembe had earlier stated that the residents affected by the natural disasters would be moved to Wamena, Jayapura.
“This plan had been approved by President Joko Widodo. We just have to determine the proper location,” he noted in Jayapura on Thursday.
According to the governor, Papua’s government will discuss building public service facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and housing for the resettled residents.
“This type of disaster has been repeatedly occurring over a period of time, so the residents must be relocated,” he added.
The Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry in Jakarta, on March 19, however, denied that the disaster was caused by deforestation.
There was no illegal logging activity in the Sentani areas, according to IB Putera Parthama, the ministry’s Director General for River Basin Management.
There were no logs floating or swept away by flood waters in the area, he added.
“Branches and roots of the floating trees were intact. It shows that the trees were not a result of the illegal logging activity (suspected of having) caused the flash floods,” he told the press.
Sentani located in the Cycloop mountainous area is prone to flash floods and landslides during heavy rain because the area has a steep slope and an unstable river basin, he said, adding that the flooding was triggered by heavy rains that went on incessantly for six hours.
The forest conversion in Sentani was also not significant, as it covered a total area of 495.47 hectares or 3.3 percent during the 2012-2017 period.
“From 2012 to 2017, the forest area converted into non-forest area reached only 3.3 percent. So, it’s not strong enough to associate the disaster with the forest conversion,” he said.
According to the 2018 data, the forest coverage in the river basin area in Sentani was around 55 percent, meaning it was good enough.
The ministry, however, has sent a task force to investigate the cause of the flash floods, he remarked.
The task force is headed by M Saparis Sudaryanto, the ministry’s Director on Planning and Evaluation of River Basin Management
It will collect data and facts about the floods and landslides in Papua to study them for future solutions.
“I will collect facts as accurately as possible,” Sudaryanto said.
The ministry has also set up an information command post to update information on the flooding situation in Sentani.
Indonesia is prone to geological and hydrometeorological disasters. Last year, during the period from January to mid-December, of the 2,427 natural disasters had hit the tropical country, 2,350, or 96.9 percent, were hydrometeorological in nature, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds. (*)
People not be provoked with rumours on Freeport’s operating area
Jayapura, Jubi – A provincial parliament member, the Rev. Nikolaus Degey, expects people of neighbouring regencies Mimika Regency in Papua Province, would not address rumours on Freeport’s operating areas seriously.
“Rumors say Freeport’s operating area has crossed the territory of other regencies. It’s not true. This issue is misleading,” confirmed the Rev. Degey to Jubi on Sunday (15/12/2019).
The operating area of PT Freeport Indonesia covers both mining and port areas, where located in Mimika Regencies. In 1972, Freeport started its ground mining exploitation which makes it the largest ground mining area in the world.
Along with advanced technology, Freeport shifted its operation into underground mining, in which activities are invisible from the public. This has raised speculations among people who believe the company’s operating area has crossed their regions.
“We appeal to people living in Puncak Jaya, Paniai and Intan Jaya to not being provoked. Because this rumour might harm people,” he said.
Also, he said if Freeport’s operating area has crossed the border of the three regencies it would impact on people’s lives. According to him, if the rumours are true, people in Puncak Jaya, Paniai and Intan Jaya might have a similar experience as people of Mimika Regency. Amungme and Kamoro tribes are indigenous tribes who are the most affected by mining activities of PT Freeport Indonesia.
“I think this would be happening upon them [if the operating area of PT Freeport has crossed the border of Mimika Regency],” he said.
Moreover, the Rev. Nikolaus Degey asked those who spread this rumour to stop provoking people in these three regencies. Instead, he encourages them to bring this issue to the court rather than circulating rumours that potentially harm ordinary people.
Meanwhile, the former provincial parliament member and the Chairman of Paniai Customary Council, John NR Gobai, the issue of Freeport’s mining area should be solved before talking about the provincial or regional area split in Papua. It is important to ensure that the establishment of new administrative areas would not raise conflict of interest to get a share of Freeport mining activities.
Gobai said the corporate, indigenous council and the government must sit together to solve this issue. The Government also need to guarantee the future of people.
“If I was questioned, I would say it’s better to solve the mining and land-tenure rights of people living around the company. [If] the company has done all this business in its mining area, they would go. People would never go, they will stay. So it needs a guarantee [for them]” said Gobai. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Anticipating toxic spills in Papua New Guinea, DKP monitors fishermen’s catches at Hamadi fish landing
Jayapura, Jubi – The Office of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DKP) of Jayapura Municipality continues to monitor local fishermen’s catches at Hamadi fish landing following the toxic spills in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Municipal DKP took a few samples of fish to a laboratory for further research whether the incident would impact to the local catchment or fishing ground areas.
The Head of Jayapura Municipal DKP Martheys Sibi said by Monday, his office is still waiting for a clarification from the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries (KKP-RI). “But, based on our observations, so far [the condition of] Hamadi Fish Landing (PPI Hamadi) runs as usual. Fishing activities at the local fishing ground by local fishermen have not yet had a significant impact,” he told Jubi when asked for confirmation via WhatsApp on Monday (18/11/2018).
Sibi further said by Monday the local fishermen continue to bring their catches to sell in PPI Hamadi and such fishes look normal. “However, we will continue to monitor the impact of nickel waste (on fish and catchment areas) while waiting for a follow-up from KKP-RI in Jakarta,” said Sibi.
Moreover, he said the fish monitoring in PPI Hamadi would keep running while awaiting the result from the laboratory. “If there would be a complaint from fishermen (about their catches), such fish would be taken to the laboratory for testing. We have communicated with the Fish Quarantine and Quality Analysis Centre of KKP in Sentani, Papua, to examine a few samples of fish from fishermen,” he said.
Earlier, the sea waters in Basamuk, Madang, Papua New Guinea has reportedly been contaminated by waste spills from China-owned nickel mining company. A report published by Dr Alex Mojon said pollution from Chinese-owned Nickel Ramu has caused fish to die around Madang sea. (*)
Reporter: Sindung Sukoco
Editor: Pipit Maizier
CSOs decline logging company in Wondama
Jayapura, Jubi – Some Papua’s CSOs namely LP3BH Manokwari, YALI Papua, Yayasan Pusaka and Pemuda Suku Mairasi urge the Minister of Environment and Foresty to review the operation permit of a logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera (KTS) in Mairasi area.
The Mairasi tribal communities from Undurara, Wosimo and Inyora villages sent a statement letter stated on 12 May 2019 to oppose PT KTS to operate in Mairasi.
“People feel uneasy and disturbed due to the presence of the company and the military. It creates unsecured, disharmony and has no guarantee of providing economic benefit to the community,” Agust Veth from Pemuda Suku Mairasi told Jubi by phone on Sunday, 9 June 2019 in Jayapura.
According to Veth, people have not forgotten the incident of Bloody Wasior (2001) that allegedly triggered by logging activity from the timber company Darma Mukti Persana. Further, he said the human rights violation case in Wasior has not settled since then.
“Now, the military along with some public leaders represent the LMA (Customary Council) who facilitate the meeting on ‘Social Communication’ allegedly want to intimidate and force the local community to approve the logging company to operate in Mairasi. However, the local community continue to decline the company and refuse to attend the meeting.”
Mairasi people have objected the timber activity of KTS since 2012, while in 2013, a military culprit based in KTS logging area in Sorong allegedly tortured three residents from Sararti and Ambuni villages. The incident then reported to the local government, the People’s Assembly of Papua Barat and the Minister of Forestry. No action towards both perpetrator and the company has yet taken.
“Some reports revealed that PT KTS had some internal and financial issues. The company cannot pay the IUPHHK-HA (licence for utilization of timber in natural forest) and has a deficit (source: www.nasional.kontan.co.id, 2010; PT. Inti Multima Sertifikasi, 2015),” added Vest.
The logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera obtained the IUPHHK-HA from the Minister of Forestry (now the Minister of Environment and Forestry) Nomor SK.648/Menhut-II/2009 on 15 October 2009 to permit it to operate in a concession area of 115.800 hectares located in Teluk Wondama Regency. PT KSP is a subsidiary company of Artha Graha Group operating in Teluk Wondama Regency.
Concerning the permit, the civil society organisations ask the Minister of Environment and Forestry to evaluate the permit of PT KSP and give penalties for their negligence.
“We also ask the Military Commander of XVIII Kasuari to urge the Military District Command Sector Wasior and other local military authorities to stop using the military approach and intimidation towards the local community and backing up the interest of PT KTS.”
“They should prioritise respect, protection and fulfilment on human rights and environment, especially the basic rights of Mairasi Tribe. Most importantly, they must prevent the reoccurrence of the same conflict. Therefore, the law enforcement and legal protection of Mairasi Tribe are in need.”
However, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Military Command of Kasuari and PT KTS have not confirmed this information. On the other hand, Konstan Natama, the Acting Sub-district Chief of Naikere, Teluk Wondama Regency told Antara on 18 January 2018 that he was concerned about the massive logging activity by PT KTS clearing out the ironwood trees in Naikere.
Meanwhile, Franky Sanperante from Yayasan Pusaka said another subsidiary company of Artha Graha Network is PT Papua Satya Kencana with IUPHHK-HA license No SK.647/Menhut-II/2009. It has a concession area of 195.420 hectares located in Teluk Bintuni Regency.
“Combined, the total concession of the two companies is about 79% of the total area of Teluk Wondama Regency (3,960 Km2) or fivefold of the area of Jakarta,” said Frangky.
In the report published by Research and Development Centre of Department of Health of the Republic Indonesia “Merindukan Hidup Sehat Orama Etnik Mairasi Kabupaten Teluk Bintuni, 2014”, it mentioned that trees with a diameter of one meter such as ironwood and mahogany found in that area.
In Naikere, PT KTS has cleared out the trees since 1990 and stopped the operation at the time of Wasior incident (2001). Timber trucks carried one or two logs of wood with a diameter of one or two meters three or four times a day at that time. (*)
Reporter: Timoteus Marten
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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