Not less than seven 150 kV Extra High Voltage Air Line (SUTET) towers almost collapsed due to the mining activity of excavation C in Matalamagi Village, Kilometer 10, Sorong City, West Papua. Quoting regional.kompas.com, the seven SUTET towers are feared to collapse if excavation C activities at the site continue to operate.

This was revealed in the Coordination Meeting for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Mining Sector in the Sorong City Region with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and Forkompinda of West Papua Province.

West Papua Electricity Project Manager, Nimbrod Tambunan, said that the towers located in the excavation C area are towers 10 to 16. “If this is left unattended by the City and Sorong Regency governments, then in the future, it will not be long when the towers will be cave in.

The city and Sorong Regency will have a blackout and there will be no electricity all over,” Nimbrod said during a meeting with the KPK in Sorong, His party hopes that the entire community will care and maintain the PLN infrastructure that has been built in the City and Regency of Sorong.

“This is an order that we carry out from Mr. President Joko Widodo so that Papua is bright during the night. So far, we have coordinated with the Sorong Police Chief, BPN Sorong and Dandrem 181/Sorong, even with the government up to the district level regarding the release of land. Let’s take care of what the government has built because it is very useful for us and our children and grandchildren,” he explained.

Still from the same source, it was stated that repairing a collapsed SUTET tower will take a long time and can potentially cut off electricity. “If one of the towers collapses due to a landslide, the recovery will take a very long time, one semester or 6 months and Sorong City will be pitch black,” Nimbrod said.

As the person in charge of the project, his party plans to hand over the SUTET towers to PLN in the Sorong Region after the construction is completed. The Head of the Environmental Protection and Management Agency (PPLH) of Sorong City, Kelly Kambu, said that he would schedule a coordination meeting with the district and village heads together with residents around the excavation C site to socialize the dangers of the tower if it collapses.

According to him, residents need to understand the impact of excavation C activities that threaten the existence of the SUTET tower. “I also ask PLN to carry out reforestation because it is already in their work documents to reforest lands that are considered critical for landslides. Moreover, the soil condition is sensitive to erosion, so the types of plants that we recommend are vetiver and other pioneer plants,” Kelly said on Wednesday (14/9/2022).

Kelly said that if this step is not taken, then within the next one year there will be threats. Previously, on Tuesday (13/9/2022), the KPK together with the West Papua Forestry Service and the Papua and Maluku Region Gakkum posted a sign prohibiting mining activities without a permit in the Protected Forest area.

A Scenario of 70 Percent of Protected Forest The Provincial Government (Pemprov) of West Papua is trying to meet the target of converting 70 percent of forests to protected areas. Quoting Republika. co.id, the West Papua Provincial Government has taken a number of scenarios to meet this target.

Head of the West Papua Forestry Service, Hendrik Runaweri, said that in the revised provincial spatial and regional plan (RTRW) document, only 67 percent of the forest was able to be accommodated as protected areas. Following up on the results of the international conference on biodiversity, creative economy and ecotourism in Manokwari in October 2018, the West Papua Provincial Government is targeting 70 of forest areas in the area to be used as protected areas.

Hendrik is optimistic that with the work program that is currently being carried out by the West Papua Forestry Service, the target can be met. According to him, there will still be a forest rehabilitation program in West Papua this year. This is one of the scenarios in fulfilling and maintaining the quality of the protected forest. “Our rehabilitation program is carried out in all regencies and cities. However, the extent is not the same with the others,” he said.

Another scenario implemented by the Forestry Service is that there will be no more release of protected area status for other uses. All districts and cities will also be encouraged to have urban forests or green open spaces.

Furthermore, to fulfill the 70 percent of protected areas in this region, the West Papua Provincial Government will not extend the forest use concession permit which will expire in the near future. “Therefore, we can rehabilitate the forest land into a protected forest area, and no longer a production forest,” Runaweri said.

According to him, it is quite difficult to achieve the conversion of 70 percent of the forest to a protected area. Some of the challenges that must be answered include development and regional expansion. “Like the construction of roads, bridges and other public facilities, like it or not, development must be done to answer the needs of the community,” he said.

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