Indonesia ready to open Skouw-Wutung Border PDF Afdrukken

Indonesia has announced that it is ready to open its cross-border road with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. The preparation have discussed on  Joint Border Committee (JBC) have conduct on December 7-10 2009 in Jakarta.

Indonesia and PNG have sign some agreements especially about infrastructure development as long as the border.   Furthermore according to president spokesperson, President SBY would visit PNG on February 10 2009, but the plan would be conduct if PNG already set up all infrastructure in border area.   The post is scheduled to be officially opened  by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare.

Opening skouw-wutung border were very important for the people both of country as Papuan Governor Barnabas Suebu said that with the opening of the border crossing the number of people from PNG coming to shop in Jayapura would increase because the city's prices were cheaper, while Indonesian traders from Jayapura would find it easier to sell their products in Vanimo, a PNG provincial capital close to the border. There are benefits to be had by both sides. They get cheaper prices and we will be able to sell our commodities. The border post is also expected to reduce the number of illegal crossings. "With the opening of the legal post, local people are expected to use it," he said.

The question is PNG government already or not to open the border because previously 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 reason was 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.

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.

 Wilson/PT December 17, 2009