Transport from Bengkulu to Enggano Island plays a key role in responding to the problem of rural social exclusion, but it is very difficult on normal days and it tends to to pose an even greater challenge during bad weather.
Residents who live in Enggano Island complained of sea and air transport which has been paralyzed for the past 10 days because of various factors.
Enggano Island is accessible by a local ferry, and a one-way trip usually takes around 12 hours, though it depends on the weather conditions.
Rafli, the Kaitora tribe leader on Enggano Island, remarks in Bengkulu on Monday that the paralyzed air and sea transportation from Bengkulu to Enggano and vice versa during the past 10 days has made him unable to return to Enggano.
"I have been stuck for 10 days in Bengkulu and I am unable to return to Enggano because of transportation difficulty," Rafli deplored.
The Kaitora tribe leader then asked the regional government to find a solution to the transportation problem.
Rafli remarked that the island of Enggano is home to abundant natural resources, including flora and fauna, such as the wild boar, wild cow, wild buffalo, turtles, and around 10 thousand hectares of conserved forest, which can attract tourists.
Therefore, the original inhabitants of the island have reminded the government and related parties about the importance of island conservation.
"We have repeatedly reminded the government and all public offices in the North Bengkulu district to pay serious attention towards conservation of the Enggano Island," Rafli noted.
According to him, the conservation of the Enggano Island depends on the condition of the coral reefs and the existence of the remaining mangrove forests and rivers.
In the meantime, Bengkulu Transportation Office spokesman Budi Jatmiko said the Pulo Tello ferry which serves Bengkulu - Enggano route is being repaired at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta for a month.
In additon, Jatmiko added that due to weather condition, Susi Air aircraft which had been serving Bengkulu-Enggano route can operate back end of March.
The transportation difficulties also inhibit tourists who want to visit Enggano through Bengkulu.
Hence, infrastructure and transportation facilities need to be improved in order to support the Enggano Island tourism.
The island has a vast marine and ecotourism potential, but it lacks the necessary supporting infrastructure.
Zulvan Zaviery, a developer of the Enggano island tourism industry explained that in 2014 the North Bengkulu district government proposed to build the requisite supporting infrastructure including accommodation, communication network, transportation facility, and electricity.
Zulvan emphasized that the Enggano Island, with its bountiful great reefs off the coast, is also one of places in Indonesia to enjoy surfing.
But, so far, many foreign tourists who enjoy surfing, come to the Enggano Island by cruise ship, rather than by ferry from Bengkulu.
He added that the tourism potential of the Enggano Island can be used as an alternative to improve the livelihood of the local people. The island has five ethnic communities with a wealth of customs and cultures that can be showcased to the tourists.
"Besides this, the island boasts several tourist sites and dense mangrove forests that naturally serve as a barrier and prevent coastal erosion," he stated.
In Enggano Island, there are remains of three three colonial buildings that should be preserved as a tourist attraction in the province of Bengkulu.
Some of the Enggano islanders discovered the remains of fortress-like buildings in 2010, with some of their parts damaged due to erosion at the Malakoni and Apoho hamlets.
The remains, believed to be of the Dutch, Japanese, and British colonial era, have a high historical value, which must be preserved to attract tourists.
Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Enggano Island also boasts a large variety of beautiful landscapes, jungles, and white sandy beaches with waves perfect for surfing.
According to Zuvan,the tourism potential of the Enggano Island can be used as an alternative to improve the livelihood of the local people. The island has five ethnic communities with a wealth of customs and cultures that can be showcased to the tourists.
Electricity is also another decisive factor for the development of tourism on the Enggano Island.
Therefore, the local people have also urged the local government to build a diesel power plant (PLTD) to provide electricity to some villages that are still reeling in the dark.
"Some houses in the villages that are deprived of electricity already operate on solar energy, but thousand others are without electricity, and therefore, we urge the North Bengkulu district government, where the Enggano Island is situated, to build a PLTD for them on a priority basis," Karya Enggano Foundation Chairman M. Basyir Kauno stated in Bengkulu some time ago.
According to him, the people have long been waiting for the local government to fulfill its promise to build a power plant for them, but so far, it has failed to act upon it.(*)