Sentani, Papua (ANTARA) - At the end of January 2024, ANTARA undertook a trip to the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea (PNG) border to visit its polling station (TPS) ahead of the 2024 election on February 14.

The journey took about an hour from Jayapura City to reach the Indonesia-PNG Skouw border.

The polling station usually used by the Voting Organizing Group (KPPS) is at the Skouw border market.

However, upon arrival at the location, no visible preparations had been made by the residents or the KPPS who were responsible to prepare the TPS.

At that time, the market was only filled with few traders opening stalls, and motorbike taxi drivers were seen waiting for passengers. When ANTARA arrived at the border, the market had not opened.

Market days were usually three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. However, the schedule has been changed by the local authorities from both parties to Wednesday and Saturday.

On market days, there can be up to 500 to one thousand people crossing at the Skouw National Border Crossing Post (PLBN), Jayapura City, Papua.

This crossing is not only used by humans but also to bring goods to improve the economy of border communities between the two countries.

Head of the Neighborhood on the Skouw border, Yeni Rahayaan, noted that so far, no information had been received from the Muara Tami Sub-district Government or from the Voting Committee (PPS) regarding the distribution of logistics for the 2024 Election.

Usually, election logistics will be distributed on D-1, or February 13, 2023, to every TPS in Jayapura City, especially at three TPS in border areas, comprising two TPS in Mosso Village and one TPS at the Skouw border.

The number of permanent voter lists (DPT) at TPS 01 of the Skouw border totaled 260 people, including Indonesian citizens who have lived and worked as traders, motorbike taxi drivers, rental car drivers, as well as residents of Wutung Village, Papua New Guinea, who have settled in the Indonesian territory proven by their identity card (KTP).

PNG residents, especially those who have settled as Indonesian citizens, largely constitute families from the Ondoafi, or Tribal Chief, of the Skouw Stanis Tanfa Chilong border. Stanis Tanfa Chilong is the sole owner of land from the Tami Skouw Bridge to the Skouw border area.

Ondoafi has an important role in the pace of development, trade activities, and holding election safely.

Stanis Tanfa Chilong said he would support the election on February 14. All residents in border areas are also obliged by law to support elections for the president and vice president as well as legislative members.

"I assure you that the voting will run smoothly with the support from all citizens,” he added.

Security forces will also secure the implementation of election day at this border, with assistance from the Indonesia-PNG Border Security Task Force, Infantry Battalion (Yonif) 122, the Indonesia-PNG Border Police Post, and the Military District Command (Koramil) 1701-22.

Youth leader in the region, Joap Tanfa Chilong, is also certain about safety during election day. Communication has been established with all residents at the border to realize security for public order ahead of the election day.

He admitted to working with the community every day and being well-aware of the current conditions. Hence, he ensured that the border area is safe for election.

Apart from communication within the region, he also invited his family from PNG to create peace in the border area, both during and after the election.

"I also invited our families from PNG to communicate together to protect this region because when problems occur and the border is closed, the economy will be paralyzed,” he remarked.

He highlighted that peace in the region nowadays is the result of hard work by all parties, especially the support of traditional community leaders who own customary land and youth leaders.

Moreover, sound communication continues to be established between the communities who own border customary rights and the security forces comprising personnel from the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) and the National Police.

The presence of the Indonesia-PNG Border Skouw Sector Police also shows commitment in establishing law enforcement for residents at the border.

Head of the border police station, Second Inspector (Ipda), Alexander Yarisetouw, stated that along with seven other personnel, they had been maintaining security and social order at the Skouw Border.

Ahead of the election day, authorities routinely conduct patrols on liquor brought from Jayapura City to the border area.

The police along with personnel from the Border Security Task Force and the Immigration Task Force also routinely conduct patrols to reduce the number of crimes that will occur in border areas ahead of the election.

With the communication that has been established, Yarisetouw is confident that the 2024 elections in the Indonesia-PNG border area will remain safe and conducive.

Moreover, his personnel are actively involved in security assessment, both through guarding and directly disseminating information to the community.

They have been instructed to mingle with the people in this border area to obtain all information to support safety, security, and social order in the area.

The Military District Command (Koramil) 1701-22, as an extension of the Military District Command (Kodim) 1701 Jayapura, is also present in the border area to support the realization of social order.

The Military District Command covers areas, such as West Koya, East Koya, Hol, Koya Koso, Central Koya, Skouw Sae Village, Skouw Mabo Village, Skouw Yambe Village, Mosso Village, and Indonesia-PNG Skouw Border.

The village-affiliated non-commissioned officer (Babinsa) is tasked with maintaining communication with residents at the border area in a bid to detect social and economic movements occurring in the area.

Commander of Koramil (Danramil) 1701/22, Captain Arm Enos Furima, ensured that elections in border areas, including two polling stations in Mosso Village and one polling station at the Indonesia-PNG Skouw border, would be safe.

This statement came from the hard work of the military and police personnel in establishing sound relations with the community to create security and social order.

In addition, Babinsa members always provide reports on the communication with local residents and also to succeed the 2024 election.

Military personnel in the border area are also ready to help the community to address social problems, such as fallen trees or scarcity of clean water.

The TNI has also formed a program called Mitra Karib that involves all elements of society to realize security and social order in the area.

This program can help the security authority to oversee the security, social, cultural, and economic conditions in society to make suitable policies for the community.

All these efforts from security forces, community leaders, and residents at the Indonesian-PNG border offer a sense of optimism that the election at the border area would be held safely and peacefully.

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Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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