AIDP’s investigation into the Depapre Sea Toll Port project, Jayapura Regency, exposes serious issues

The Democratic Alliance for Papua (AlDP) has conducted an investigation into the construction of a container port in Depapre, Jayapura Regency, Papua Province, as part of President Joko Widodo’s Sea Toll policy. The investigation, conducted from July 2021 to October 2023, has revealed several issues surrounding the project, indicating its failure to achieve its intended goals.

Firstly, AlDP’s investigation found that the land acquisition and compensation rules for the port development primarily benefit the Jayapura Regency Government. The pricing for land acquisition was done without considering the Selling Value of Tax Objects (NJOP), even though the government has the authority to establish NJOP. This lack of clear pricing criteria has led to inadequate compensation for the land acquired, raising concerns about fairness.

The land acquisition process was conducted in stages from 2008 to 2013, covering only 24.83 hectares of the 74.3 hectares required for the Depapre Sea Toll Port. During this period, the pricing of land was set at approximately 50,000 IDR per square meter, despite the absence of a clear legal basis for this figure. AlDP suggests that the government should have based compensation on the NJOP in the nearby Doyo Region, where land prices were significantly higher at 285,000 IDR per square meter.

AlDP recommends a re-measurement and study involving customary rights holders, indigenous peoples, and the government to recalculate the compensation for indigenous land rights properly. They emphasise the importance of fair compensation for indigenous peoples whose livelihoods have been affected by the project.

Furthermore, the investigation highlights several other problems related to the Depapre Sea Toll Port project. The construction of the port, which was initially intended to improve economic welfare, has not lived up to its promises. The road leading to the port is in poor condition, and funds allocated for its repair were reportedly misappropriated, exacerbating the project’s shortcomings.

In the planning stages, the government only involved three clans, ignoring the rights and interests of other clans in Depapre. Additionally, the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) document was not properly communicated to the community as customary rights owners. This lack of transparency and consideration for indigenous peoples’ rights has led to adverse environmental impacts, such as the reclamation of traditional fishing areas and coral reefs.

Depapre Port, which was intended to serve as a container port, bulk cement port, and palm oil port, has only conducted loading and unloading activities briefly in 2021. The management of the port has been marred by conflicts between different levels of government, further hindering its functionality.

Lastly, the project’s failure has also affected the promised economic opportunities for the local community. Thousands of stevedoring workers (TKBM) were assigned from eight villages, but with minimal port activity, they were not paid as agreed. Moreover, the shift of Depapre Port’s function from a container port to a passenger port in 2022 has not proven to be effective, as passenger ship operations remain unclear and limited.