Minister signed revised decree, Padang Island residents protest APRIL’s company

EoF News / 26 November 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) -- Approximately 200 hundred residents of four villages in Merbau sub-district, Meranti Islands District, Riau, flocked in Lukit Village. It was Saturday, 12 October 2013, at 8 a.m, when hundreds of residents walked through the footpath surrounded by sago and rubber farm through the thatch heading to Tanjung Gambar, Lukit Village of Pulau Padang (island), Meranti district of Riau province. reported that following more than 4 hours of walking, at 12.30 pm, over the curb corridor built by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (PT RAPP), a timber supplier and closely linked to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), they arrived at the jetty that the company built a year ago in Tanjung Gambar.

Lukit, Bagan Melibur and other four villages’ residents immediately met Subhan Daulay and Marhadi, PT RAPP’s PR, demanding the company to stop operating in Tanjung Gambar. “Right from this second, the heavy equipment must be gone out of Tanjung Gambar,” Pairan (38), a resident, said. Daulay and Marhadi still gave no response.

“We’ll be ready to pack, and get out from here only if if there’s already letter from the goverment that command us to do so,” Marhadi explained. Marhadi continued that PT RAPP, can keep operating as it has the permit the Minister of Forestry Decree called SK 180 year 2013 signed on 21 March 2013 by Minister Zulkifli Hasan, “We came to Tanjung Gambar as we got approval from and known by the team of Lukit Village.”

However, a debate was unavoidable. “What team? Just so you know, the team of Lukit Village had dispersed long time ago, if you said that you [Marhadi] got the permit from a team, tell us the name of the team. If it really exists, it’ll just make our suspicion bigger, because you started when it had been dispersed.” Pairan replied. “The point is that we’ll stay untill you go.”

The negotiation ended a deadlock. The witnessing communities soon informed the other residents of the six villages to immediately come and gather in order to add the crowd as soon as possible and then prepare the logistics if they should stay.

At 4 pm, AKP Lagomo, Head of Operational Bengkalis Police along with Ali Azar Merbau Police Chief came to meet the community at the jetty. Lagomo held a discussion with the community wihout the company involved.

The community remained in their demand. Not finding the way out, Lagomo called Bengkalis Police Chief. After that, Lagomo read a text message from the police chief in front of every body stating that the police chief guaranteed that PT RAPP would stop operating for a while, then he got police line put in the front of the jetty.

The police chief wanted to have a mediation with the community, village head, the district head and the company. “The people keep rejecting. The reason has been very clear, what they want is simply to have the company’s heavy equipment out of their land today.” Pairan explained to Mongabay.coid for nearly an hour through cellphone conversation.

Because of the community’s strong will, the Chief finally gave a solution by giving the status quo. “We accept it’s status quo, with only one condition; a written agreement.” Pairan said. Lagomo gave a suggestion to keep the heavy equipment in the jetty, like before, the people objected.

Finally, amid a heavy rain, Lagomo made an agreement letter between the community and company on the company’s status quo.

The point is that there should be no company’s operations in Tanjung Gambar and its surrounding area of Merbau Sub-district as it’s been status quoed. “The company was quite surprised about the status quo, it objected, but police said that it’s just temporary, then the company just left.” Pairan explained.

“The company temporary stop the plan and development of the jetty due to the community’s aspiration and is still looking forward for a mediation in order to achieve a mutual agreement.” Djarot Handoko, PT RAPP’s Corporate Communication Manager said.