PT Bio Inti Agrindo hasn’t met its obligations.

Palang-Marga-Mahuze-Kewam-di-MutingDonatus Mahuze from Muting village in Merauke, still doesn’t want to open the customary barrier prohibiting passage (palang adat) which he installed on his ancestral land alongside the Muting- Tanah Merah road. “We have installed this customary barrier so that PT Bio Inti Agrindo (BIA) pays attention to, and takes seriously, its responsibility to pay the land rights holders for the forest that has been lost”, he said.

Since 2012, this oil palm plantation company has been clearing forest in an area known as Iltdah in Ulilin district, without the knowledge of the customary landowners from the Mahuze Kewam clan. Once he found out, Donatus Mahuze demanded that the company must pay up for the forest it has already destroyed. PT BIA says that it had already paid 375 million Rupiah to a landowning clan in Bupul but then found out that they weren’t the landowners. The company now wants to give 92,400,000 Rupiah to the Mahuze Kewam clan with a promise that there will be more compensation to come, without an official statement or letter of agreement that records the size of area concerned, the form of ownership, the length of time the land would be used for, the level of compensation and when it would be paid.

During 2013, PT BIA cleared the forest on both sides of the Muting-Tanah Merah road in Ulilin District, including land belonging to Donatus Mahuze’s family. Oil palm trees are already growing there. Donatus Mahuze has demanded compensation time and time again. The company’s answers were not clear, just making promises, and tending to try to worm its way out of the situation. Donatus Mahuze felt the company was playing games with him and so decided to install the customary blockade.

Officials at the Merauke Workforce and Transmigration Office have also experienced the PT BIA bureaucracy’s evasiveness and lack of transparency. PT BIA was asked to prepare a report on their workforce, but has never given full details and the information given differs. For example in the Arafura news (July 2014), three different pices of information were given about the number of employees: 1400 people were found to be working on the ground, but only 600 were reported to the Regency Head, and 900 employees were reported to the Workforce and Transmigration Office.

This incompetence in writing reports is due to the company’s inconsistency in fulfilling its commitments and it is violating stipulations for the permits for forieign workers and is not following local government recommendations about the recruitment of local workers to different levels in the company workforce.

“For some time PT BIA has been bringing workers from outside the Merauke area and even from outside Papua without the permission of local government, said Fransiskus Tutur Prajitno, Industrial Relations and Monitoring section head from the Merauke Workforce and Transmigration Office.

The Merauke Workforce and Transmigration Office has already decided to temporarily halt processing of issues related to PT BIA’s workforce. They have asked the company to resolve the issue of workers which have been brough from outside Papua within a three-month time limit, from July to September 2014. If the issue is not resolved, the office will threaten to report PT BIA to the Regency Head to follow up by giving penalties.

Source: Pusaka

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