The issue of PT Rajawali’s compensation to villagers in Kampung Domande, Merauke, has still not been resolved. The villagers, who are the customary landowners, have blocked access to around 10,000 hectares of the land which the company wants to use to plant sugar cane.
When Tabloid Jubi met Efendi Kanan, the head of the forestry and plantation department of Merauke Regency, in his office on Thursday (30/5), he confirmed the blockade was taking place. “There is a blockade, and an accompanying letter has been sent to the Regency Leader, Romanus Mbaraka. I’ve just received a copy of the letter and now I’ve called the company to request further discussions. However, so far only company staff have responded. We were hoping the executives would come”, he said.
If company leaders would join the process, Efendi continued, there could be further discussion about how to approach a solution. “I also have to communicate directly with my superiors. But I hope that in the next couple of days we can arrange a meeting and then go to the village to discuss with the people”.
If representatives from the regency government and the company went to Kampung Domande, Efendi explained, they would bring a final decision. “I don’t know what sort of compensation has been given, but maybe it relates to the company’s recent logging activities. I doubt it has to do with the land issue itself. Because that issue has definitely been discussed between the company and the local people”, he said.
According to Gubernatorial regulations, Efendi explained, the amount of the people’s timber that the company has logged must be counted up and paid for by the company. The problem now is whether that has happened or not. “As far as I know, the company is currently logging the trees on the land. But it is still not clear and certain whether the trees felled have been counted and paid for”.
Meanwhile, when tabloidjubi.com met Merauke District Legislative Council member Hengky Ndiken on Friday (30/5), he said that he had urged the company clearing the villagers land to make the local people’s security their first priority, as those people hold the customary land rights “I feel that since the company has already taken over the people’s land, it is their clear duty and responsibility to think about how to attend to their needs”, he said.
Aside from this, Ndiken continued, the people as customary landowners have to be directly involved, both in the office and in the field. They can’t just make all sorts of enticing promises, but then ignore the people once the operations start. “Despite all the local people’s limitations and lack of skills, the company must provide training and other activities,” Hengky said.
Furthermore, Ndiken states, if they were given opportunities and space to become involved, it is sure that the people would not get carried away with too many protest actions. In that way the investment could continue without encountering obstacles. “I am optimistic that if they are involved, the enterprise should proceed well,” he said.
He also hopes that attention is paid to village development. Of course when a company arrives and presents its plans to the people, they always also present a work program to ensure the people’s security. But this program must be actually put in place once the company starts work in the field.
Ndiken also requests the Merauke Regency Government to remain vigilant towards company operations, including regarding the people’s rights. “As a representative of the people, I will be involved in monitoring the situation regarding people’s rights. They are the owners of this country, and we need to pay attention to them”, he requested.