Hence, the people will really become prosperous.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, has asked that the compensation for the Montara oil spill be managed professionally for the benefit of the affected communities and ecosystem.

"I also suggest to establish a fishermen’s cooperative to manage it (the compensation) professionally. Later, we will provide assistance, thus the money will not be misspent," he explained at a press conference on the “Update on the Montara Case Status and Dissemination on Negotiation Results” here on Thursday.

The Montara oil spill occurred from August 21 to November 3, 2009. The oil field was located in the Timor Sea, off the northern coast of Western Australia, Australia.

Given the geographical proximity to Timor Island, the local marine ecosystem, fishermen, and seaweed farmers in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province of Indonesia were also affected by the oil spill.

The coordinating minister said that his ministry will promptly assign professionals to calculate the initial capital needed to establish the cooperative so that local seaweed farmers and fishermen can have productive businesses.

"Hence, the people will really become prosperous," he added.

In addition to improving the people’s welfare, the fund must also be utilized for restoring the maritime environment, which has been damaged by the oil spill, he emphasized.

The attempt is being undertaken to show the world that Indonesia is very serious about tackling environmental pollution, he added.

Thailand-based PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), which was operating the oil field at the time of the incident, has agreed to pay a compensation of 192.5 million Australian dollars (equivalent to US$129 million) to fishermen and seaweed farmers in NTT province.

Head of the task force for handling the Montara oil spill case, Purbaya Yudhi Sadewa, informed that the compensation would be disbursed to around 15 thousand fishermen and seaweed farmers.

"Hence, each fisherman (and seaweed farmer) can get AU$6 thousand to AU$7 thousand, more or less," he noted.

He said that the sum might increase since the task force is still negotiating on the matter.

Although not all parties are satisfied with the compensation, still, it is better than nothing at all, Sadewa added.

The task force is waiting for the court’s decision regarding when the compensation can be distributed.

The government will ensure that the fishermen and seaweed farmers get their rights, he emphasized.

Head of the West Timor Care Foundation, a local non-profit organization, Ferdi Tanoni, said that his organization has accepted the quantum of the compensation.

He said he expected the compensation to be managed professionally for meeting the needs of the local people.

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Translator: Ade Junida, Uyu Liman
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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