The Trans Papua Highway is the latest and the biggest infrastructure development in the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo Era. This is a breakthrough project by the Indonesian government that the main purpose of this 4,325 kilometers road is as the lifeline of the economy in West Papua.
The project was initially started by the third president, B.J. Habibie, and inaugurated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by Presidential Regulation No. 49/2013. This massive infrastructure development project in Papua was begun in 2014 by President Joko Widodo.
Economic and Infrastructure Development Inspired Trans Papua Project
The Papua region is often seen as a ‘last frontier’ province in Indonesia. Untouched, wild, and surrounded by tropical rainforests. There are indigenous natives that spoke more than 800 languages and local tribes that are still untouched by globalization.
Compared with other provinces in Indonesia, Papua only has a few infrastructures due to its slow development progress. However, the government is trying to accelerate infrastructure development and economic growth in most developing areas. Papua is in the critical point of vital developments, and it will impact the local community. Still, the long-held reputation for remoteness and inaccessibility in West Papua should change. It’s an effective way to promote economic growth, encourage regional trade, and provide cheaper essential goods.
As we know, Papua is known for its high prices due to the poor road conditions and distribution. The oil fuels cost 10x more expensive than in other regions in Indonesia. It happens for years. The transportations and distribution cost is expensive.
Therefore, by continuing the Trans Papua Highway project, President Joko Widodo hopes that this will make the distribution more accessible and cheaper for many areas in West Papua. He also hopes that West Papuan can get easier access to mobility from region to other regions, staple goods, and even gasoline. A better major road also has a significant potential to boost economic and social development.
How Can Trans Papua Highway Increase the Equity and Prosperity of West Papua Province?
Another goal from the Indonesian government is to ensure the equity and prosperity of West Papua Province, including regional development and energy equitability or electrification.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, energy equitability means the condition of prosperity, a good business climate, and high economic growth. To reach this goal, the Indonesian government launch several programs, such as (1) increasing electrification ratios; (2) Equitable, affordable, and accessible energy to reduce disparities; (3) Maintaining the supply and sustainability of the energy; (4) Maintaining the investment and economic growth; and (5) Implementing bureaucratic reform in order to create good governance (Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Energi Berkeadilan, 2019).
Trans Papua Highway plays a significant role in supporting the distribution of new electrical grid in the West Papua Region to implement the program. Today’s electrification ratio in West Papua is successfully improving from 90.52% in 2014 and 99% in 2019.
Since Papua has substantial oil and gas resources, supporting infrastructure development like the Trans Papua Highway will impact economic growth and increase the local community’s prosperity.
Twelve Roads Segment in Two Provinces
Trans Papua Highways consists of eight road segments in Papua Province and four road segments in West Papua Province. All these roads’ total length is 4,325 kilometers stretching from Sorong in the north-west to Merauke in the south-east. Moreover, it includes the boundary between West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
The major roads will connect cities, including Sorong, Manokwari, Fakfak, Nabire, Enarotali, Wamena, Jayapura, Timika, and many more.
Trans Papua Highway isn’t the Only Infrastructure Development in West Papua
Since we mostly talked about Trans Papua road, it doesn’t mean that this is the only development project run by the Indonesian government. The highway is one of the infrastructure development projects in West Papua. The other projects include ports, railways, bridges construction, housing, public facilities, and transportation.
The next development projects by the Indonesian government are air transportation and railways. These project’s primary goal is to focus on minimizing the prosperity disparity problems and ensuring equity between West Papua and other provinces in Indonesia.
The infrastructure development of Trans Papua Highway in West Papua and Papua spent USD 1,4 billion from 2014 until now. The main purpose of this road is to make Papuans easily mobile to other cities. From this road, the Indonesian Governments will be able to continue the other project to develop the region, the West Papua. The aim is to get better access to education, health facilities, information; decrease the mortality index; and increase the prosperity of West Papuans. This is what freedom really is.
The Indonesian government also intend to show the world that West Papua and Papua are as important as the other provinces in Indonesia. Therefore in every regional development project in West Papua, the Papuan is also involved in the process for a better future of West Papua Province.