Hidden in the uplands of the Baliem Valley with its dense wilderness, Wamena shines as the urban center of Jayawijaya Regency in West Papua province. Increasingly more accessible, this town is experiencing significant infrastructure development projects.
Wamena is indeed the starting point to get into the tribal and cultural journey in the West Papuan’s highlands. This valley and its surrounding are the home for the prominent ingenious ethnic people of, among others, Dani, Lany, and Yali.
As the capital city of Jayawijaya Regency, Wamena has the highest population concentration consisting of urban and rural housing areas. It leads the town into an almost modernized metropolis due to the massive development agendas.
Wamena History in A Brief
In 1938, the third expedition to New Guinea led by a zoologist Richard Archbold discovered the hidden Baliem Valley and its unexpected agrarian inhabitants. At first, they called it the “Grand Valley” for its almost entirely disconnected from the outside world.
Thanks to its impenetrable nature, the harsh battles of World War II did not reach this area. A flight of aerial intelligence southwards of Jayapura (formerly Hollandia) also found the secluded valley. In 1956, the Dutch founded the last town in this area during their reign in Western New Guinea.
Ever since the government has opened the valley for tourism purposes, starting from a limited number. As the government has boosted infrastructure development, this area enjoys new and even increasing facilities and growth.
Transport Infrastructure Development
Due to its remote location and challenging landscape, air travel is the main transport means we can take to and from Wamena. Fortunately, more forms of access are available to complement the air transport. Road construction and sea toll projects also make Wamena more reachable.
Wamena Airport is the only air transport that serves Wamena town and its surrounding valley. In 2015, as part of the infrastructure development plan, the incumbent government restored this airport into its today’s impressive modern look and service in 2015.
This air terminal is fascinatingly expansive in structure with its 1,825 m x 30 m runaway. It also provides a spacious waiting area to accommodate thousands of prospective passengers. Dubbed as the busiest in West Papua, there approximately 150 to 180 domestic flights served by this airport per day.
Wamena Airport provides not only passenger but also cargo flights. For example, Dimonim Air, Trigana Air Service, Susi Air, and Wings Air serve as the passenger airlines.
The most impelling infrastructure development is the mega project Trans-Papua Highway. One of its achievements is the aspiring Jayapura to Wamena road segment. There is Segment III that runs for 469,48 kilometers, connecting Wamena with other cities.
The existence of the road link has reduced the cost of transporting logistics previously gone through the air. The new road infrastructure is also able to reach out to more isolated regions and hinterlands. As a result, it leads to less high price for basic needs or staples and other commodities.
The government has also linked Wamena with the sea tolls. The route connects Wamena with Ilaga, Enaratoli, Nabire to Wasior. The last city has a port for the goods loading-unloading activities.
There is also a road section of Wamena—Mamugu (that has Nduga port) that goes to Kenyam—Habema—Wamena. This land access requires for further supporting infrastructure development, such as bridges.
Economic Infrastructure Development
The growing number of road infrastructures have granted Wamena more opportunities for its people’s welfare improvement. From an economic perspective, less expensive transportation, lower prices or more affordable commodities, and increasing eager visitors, are some of the examples.
In 2013, the government built a prominent modern market in the center of the Wamena town. This infrastructure development accommodates sellers and buyers, as well as traditional farmers to trade their agricultural harvests at a reasonable price.
Once only available in the city center, now the outskirts throughout Wamena are full of modern-day kiosks to stores and shopping centers. It gives people easier access to enjoy shopping and to make a living.
Other Infrastructure Developments
The government’ commitment to accelerate welfare improvement in West Papua concentrates on the health sector as well. In addition to health services given by the Regional General Hospital of Wamena, the infrastructure development projects have built more modern or even international-standardized hospitals.
Moreover, the Ministry of Health has planned to build a type-A (vertical) hospital in 2020. The location for this referral hospital is on the outskirt of Wamena city, precisely in the Muai area of Jayawijaya Regency.
There are still further programs set for Wamena for each development sector, primarily on education, electricity, water and food security, as well as communication and information technology. In other words, infrastructure development is an absolute deal in national strategic planning, especially for the easternmost parts of Indonesia.
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