Boven Digoel: The New Icon of Cross-Border Post in Papua Province

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Malaka, NTT - Warga melintas di Pos Lintas Batas Negara (PLBN) Terpadu Motamasin di Malaka, NTT, Jumat (5/5). PLBN Terpadu Motamasin yang merupakan pos perbatasan antara RI dan Timor Leste itu termasuk satu dari tujuh pos perbatasan yang dibangun dengan sistem terpadu. ANTARA FOTO/Hafidz Mubarak A/foc/17.

Following the Presidential Instruction No. 1 of 2019, the government has planned for the infrastructure development of 11 Cross-Border Posts throughout Indonesia. The objectives are to accelerate development in those integrated cross-border posts and support the infrastructure facilities in the border areas.

For the easternmost part, there are Sota Cross-Border Post in Merauke Regency and Yetetkun Cross-Border Post in Boven Digoel Regency, respectively. Both of them are in Papua Province.

On this occasion, the highlight is on the ongoing Boven Digoel Cross-Border Post project by the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing.


Boven Digoel: An Overview

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Boven Digoel is one of the regencies (kabupaten) in the southernmost of Papua Province. Geographically, it closes to Merauke Regency as the southern border and Papua New Guinea as the eastern border.

Before its present administrative status, Boven Digoel was part of the Merauke Regency at first. However, under Law No. 26 of 2002, it has become a separate regency. After 2009, this regency covers twenty districts (kecamatan) and 112 villages (kampung).

The Boven Digoel name itself has the meaning of upper part Digoel or the upstream Digoel. It closely relates to the presence of Digoel (or Digul) River.

Boven Digoel has Tanah Merah as its capital city. This administrative center lies about 500 km (about 200 miles) of the Digoel River estuary of Arafura Sea.

Although somewhat isolated, Boven Digoel is a fairly developed area. Infrastructure development is occurring, a bit slow but starts to improve or even accelerate.


Boven Digoel: The Historical Place

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The international world has long known Boven Digoel as one of the historic detention camps during the Dutch occupation (the Dutch East Indies). Nestled near the banks of Digoel River, it was notably an exile site for Indonesians involved in the communist revolts in Java (1926—1927).

Moreover, built in 1927, Boven Digoel was a domestic exile camp (interneeringskamp) for Indonesian ingenuous movement figures considered dangerous to the Dutch East Indies government. Several prominent figures exiled to Boven Digoel were Sayuti Melik, Mohammad Hatta (the first Indonesian Vice President), and Sutan Sjahrir (the first Indonesian Prime Minister).

At that time, people used to describe Boven Digoel as a prison without cells due to its extreme desolate condition. Surrounded by vast, impenetrably dense jungles, it was hopeless to escape the location. Also, not to forget the hostile native tribes and the notorious malaria-endemic.

Thanks to the increasing infrastructure development frenzies, this region is now more accessible and even improved. It also leads to a focus on the border area.


Turning the Backyard into a Terrace

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If we draw an analogy between a country and a house, border areas in Indonesia are the backyards. Likewise, they get less attention, more particularly in corresponding to the infrastructure development efforts.

The nine priority agenda (Nawa Cita) of the incumbent government has included the proposal on developing from the periphery. It is one of the commitments to make a border area, often called a backyard area, into a proud front terrace.

The objective is not only the development of the Cross-Border Post as an entryway gate but also as an embryo for the center of economic growth. Therefore, the ultimate goal is also to improve or even accelerate the welfare of the border people.

As a complementary infrastructure development effort, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing also has improved the border road quality (Trans Papua) of the Merauke-Boven Digoel section. The goal is to strengthen the connectivity of the border area.


The New Yetetkun Cross-Border Post

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The Yetetkun Cross-Border Post lies in the Ninati District of Boven Digeol in Papua Province.

The Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing started the infrastructure development project on 25 February 2020. Per June 2020, the current progress is about 11.20 percent. The government expects the completion target will be around the commemoration of Indonesian Independence Day next year on 17 August 2021.

The total value of the development contract amounted to IDR 115.8 billion sourced from the State Budget of 2020-2021 (MYC, multi-year contract). The Regional Settlement Infrastructure Center (BPPW) of Papua Province, the Directorate General of Cipta Karya, has conducted the construction. They divide the projects into the core zone and sub-core zones.

The work scope on the core zone comprises constructing the main building of the Cross-Border Post, checkpoints, gate (border security) posts, powerhouses, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, procurement of X-Ray and thermal Detection equipment, and portals.

As for the sub-core zone, it includes the construction of a housing complex for staff and supporting zones like kiosks (as the economic center), landscaping, and other infrastructures such as waste management facilities and toilets.

Further infrastructure development projects for this new icon on the Boven Digoel border area will focus on building roads as access to the post and border areas. The plans will be providing more housing infrastructures like access for clean water, drainage, waste management facility, and more.