President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with Papuan church leaders on Wednesday and repeated his pledge that the central government would bring peace and prosperity to the region.
Thirteen church leaders attended the meeting at the Wisma Negara hall at the State Palace compound, including senior Jayapura Archdiocese official and Peace Papua Network coordinator Father Neles Tebay, Evangelical Church Assembly in Indonesia’s Papua branch chairman Rev. Lipiyus Biniluk and Rev. Isai Doom from the Tabernacle Pentecostal Church (GPT).
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi and Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto also attended.
“The President has listened to the church leaders’ aspirations. He has directed all relevant agencies to implement measures necessary to boost Papuan people’s welfare, for example, establishing a more efficient shipping mechanism to reduce cement prices,” Gamawan told reporters.
“Sufficient infrastructure and facilities are keys to help reduce prices in Papua. Thus, accelerating infrastructure development in the region will be our top priority. We have been pushing the House of Representatives to approve budgets required to implement such projects,” he added.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said: “such a constructive dialogue will continue under coordination of Vice President Boediono.”
The government recently set up Presidential Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B) which is tasked with accelerating development in the provinces.
The government’s commitment to Papua and West Papua would be tested through the UP4B, which had no authority to execute policies but was responsible for ensuring that regional administrations and the central government coordinated better with each other.
One of the projects to be closely monitored will be the acceleration of infrastructure development in Papua’s mountainous areas where 1.5 million indigenous people live.
Another project will be the acceleration of the construction of a container port in Agats, Asmat regency, to facilitate the transportation of various goods by river to Dekai, the capital of Yahukimo regency in the Highlands.
There will also be accelerated inter-regency road construction across mountainous areas to reduce the high dependence on air transportation.