Conflict in Rempang Island arose due to poor communication: Jokowi

Conflict in Rempang Island arose due to poor communication: Jokowi

President Joko Widodo in Cilegon, Banten, on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. (ANTARA/HO-Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau/rst)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated that the conflict related to land acquisition on Rempang Island, Riau Islands, was triggered by a lack of communication.

The head of state explained that the conflict between security forces and Rempang residents would not have occurred if the local residents were consulted and given solutions regarding the Batam Concession Agency's (BP Batam's) plan to develop the Rempang Eco City project.

"Residents would actually be given 500 meters of land plus one building with a type 45. However, this was not communicated well, and it caused a problem," the president noted on the sidelines of his visit to Kranggot Market, Cilegon, Banten, Tuesday.

In a bid to handle the conflict, Jokowi appointed Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia to furnish direct explanations to the residents of Rempang regarding the implementation of the investment project.

As quoted from the BP Batam website, Rempang Eco City is one of the projects registered in the 2023 National Strategic Program. Its development is regulated in Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Regulation Number 7 of 2023 that was ratified on August 28.

The Rempang Eco City project is an integrated industrial, trade, and tourism area aimed at encouraging competitiveness with Singapore and Malaysia.

This project will be implemented by PT Makmur Elok Graha (MEG), with an investment target reaching Rp381 trillion in 2080. PT MEG is a partner of BP Batam and the Batam City Government.

Later, the company will help the government to attract foreign and local investors in economic development on Rempang Island.

In order to develop the Rempang Eco City, PT MEG was given around 17 thousand hectares of land covering all of Rempang Island and Subang Mas Island. The government also targets that the development of Rempang Eco City will absorb around 306 thousand workers by 2080.

However, Rempang residents protested against the construction project by blocking the officers, who were going to peg and measure the land on September 7.

The conflict, which involved violence and resulted in injuries and also trauma to local children, was triggered by the residents' rejection of a project that required around 7,500 local residents to be relocated.

According to the local residents, the project also threatens the very existence of 16 Malay traditional villages that have been on Rempang Island since 1834.

Related news: Minister calls for careful handling of Rempang Island conflict
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