Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Papuans want to work for Freeport mining

At least 400 demonstrators from the Amungme and Kamoro Job-seekers Solidarity orgnisation rode public buses from the Mimika regency capital of Timika to the Nemangkawai Mining Institute's office demanding that they be given priority for employment at the PT Freeport Indonesia mining operations in Papua province, Markus Makur reported for The Jakarta Post.

"As far as we can see, PT Freeport Indonesia and its subsidiaries have disregarded the local people. Now, in our rally we demand that Memangkawai employs local people at PT Freeport," said Gerson Meno Imbir, the head of the protest group. "Now in the era of special autonomy, indigenous people should be given priority in PT Freeport recruitment," he said.

Deputy chief of the solidarity group Pontius Kelanangame questioned the achievements of the Mimika Manpower and Resettlement Office and said that he felt nothing had been done by the office to help the local people. "We want to be involved in development in Mimika regency rather than simply being made development objects. We support progress in Mimika regency but please pay attention to the indigenous people," he said.

Yusuf Tapa, one of Nemangkawai Mining Institute's staff members, said his office had received notification of the aspirations of job-seekers from Amungme and Kamoro as well as five other tribes. Nemangkawai, he said, has been committed to recruiting at least 57 workers per month for employment at PT Freeport's underground, operations and mechanic sections and another 120 have joined training sessions as apprentices.

"Nemangkawai has contributed greatly to the seven tribes in terms of the development of worker's skills. Those learning enough skills will be transferred to PT Freeport," he said. From 26 to 30 March there will be a recruitment test for local apprentices in Mimika. If they pass the test they will be trained, Yusuf said. If not they will be given another chance to try again at a later date, he added.

British accounting program for Papuan officials

The British government in cooperation with the public sector accounting study center of Yogyakarta-based Gajah Mada University is conducting a 10-day financial management training course for Papua provincial officials in Jayapura. Yesaya Sombuk of the Papua training center said participants will be taught new budget regulations according to the framework for the preparation of the 2008 budget.

"The implementation of the special autonomy status involves a large of amount of funding and requires skilled financial officers. We will help prepare them through this training. Good financial management will help the implementation of the special autonomy status succeed, thereby creating a new Papua," Theressa Mahoni of the British Embassy in Jakarta told The Jakarta Post.

Border concerns as new road gets ready to open

Residents of Vanimo in Papua New Guinea have protested against the opening of a new cross-border road linking their township with the capital of Indonesia's Papua province, Jayapura. According to the Port Moresby Post-Courier, the demonstrators are concerned that PNG does not seem prepared and ready to handle the influx of visitors passing through the border post at Wutung onto the PNG side.

"The opening of the highway could cause far more serious problems for PNG as a new wave of illegal immigrants could be passing through the border post and then disappearing into PNG like others have done in the past. PNG needs to provide the infrastructure and staff to secure the border post and provide quarantine, immigration, customs, police, Defence Force, taxation and other services needed to ensure strict compliance with PNG laws by anyone wishing to enter PNG," the newspaper commented.

"The government should not rush into any opening ceremony until all required services and manpower are ready to administer movements across the common border. It should also ensure the people of West Sepik, the churches, women's groups and the youths clearly understand the full implications of opening up their border town to visitors from the Indonesian side. The opening of links between the two countries needs to be carefully done to ensure the common border does not become a transit point for transnational criminal activities such as human smuggling, drugs and guns trafficking, prostitution and importation of illegal products into PNG," it said.

The Vanimo protesters have delivered a petition regarding their concerns to their provincial governor, Carlos Yuni, to give to the prime minister.

Across the border, special petrol stations are being built for PNG visitors to prevent them from purchasing diesel oil and gasoline subsidised by the Indonesian national government. But Papua provincial governor Barnabas Suebu expects a surge of PNG visitors, particularly from Vanimo, because Jayapura's prices are cheaper. "There are benefits to be had by both sides. They get cheaper prices and we will be able to sell our commodities," he said.