The limited access to West Papua was one of the reasons for its slow development in the past. As a far east region in Indonesia, an island too, people cannot easily access it without a plane. Thus, the government has aimed to increase the number of airports in that region in recent years.
Transportation as the Main Focus of National and Regional Government
In early 2021, the Indonesian president announced that infrastructure development is the main objective of the current administration. Airports in the outer regions of Indonesia (including Papua) are included in the list. Aircrafts become the main option to reach the outer regions easily and quickly.
However, the air transportation system requires airports to facilitate the commute. In West Papua, there used to be only one main airport, Domine Eduard Osok Airport. The flight schedules in the airport used to be irregular, and the flying routes were limited too.
Additionally, there is the fact that the region is vast. It takes hours to commute from one city to another within the region by land. Therefore, the government begins to concoct a strategic plan to increase accessibility, not just for people who live in big cities but all Papuans.
The development of the transportation system in this region is aligned with the country’s constitution: fair social well-being distribution for everyone. Accessibility creates more opportunities for development in various sectors. The airport will allow more connectivity with the other regions.
Benefits of Building Airports in the Region
How will an airport benefit the people in West Papua? There are some ways in which the infrastructure would be able to aid the people:
1. It Improves the Tourism Sector
Although the region has many interesting tourist hotspots to offer, the tourism sector does not develop as quickly as expected. The reason is that only a few people can access those places. Due to that, the tourist spots also develop relatively slowly. Airports will be able to increase the number of tourists entering the region.
2. Locals Can Commute to Other Places Quicker
Papuans have difficulty commuting to other places for years. The airports on the island might not be located near their homes. Additionally, the airfare is high. More airports imply more flight options, which also means a lower cost of transportation. Locals will be able to commute outside of their region for business, education, and others.
3. Easier Logistic Distribution
Logistic distribution will be simpler if more airports are being built. Easier distribution means that Papuans will have more access to items that were not easy to obtain in the past (medicines, food items, and other things). Thus, the welfare for the natives will increase with it.
4. Developing Good Culture among the People
The central government also stated that the airport would develop a good culture among locals, particularly punctuality. Airport tends to work punctually, as time precision is important in aircraft safety. The government expects that the system would influence locals to develop this culture among them.
5. Providing More Job Opportunities
Any new public infrastructure will enable more job opportunities for people who live around the area. Nationally, the central government noted that the air transportation industry could supply 4.2 million job opportunities. The development of airport infrastructure in West Papua is projected to bring welfare to its people.
The Current Plan for Air Transportation Industry
Currently, the government aims to develop three established airports in the region. Those airports are Raja Ampat Airport, Rendani Airport, and Fakfak Airport. The development plan includes renovating the building and lengthening the runway to fit international standards.
The government has planned to establish new airports to further increase the accessibility to West Papua. The plan is not without challenges. However, for the betterment of its people, this is a risk worth taking as the benefits are plenty in the long run.