[awasMIFEE note: PT Selaras Inti Semesta is a subsidiary of the Medco Group, which is also developing industrialised rice production on the Merauke area]
Merauke, Jubi – the community in Zanegi village, Malind District has expressed their disappointment in a company which has been felling the trees in their forest and processing the wood, PT Selaras Inti Semesta. The problem is, after around three years of operation, PT Selaras Inti Semesta is not providing work for a single member of the community.
“Actually in 2010 when the company started work, around 30 villagers from Zanegi were recruited by the company and given work. However, in 2012, their employment was terminated, with the company giving the reason that no more logging work would take place. But actually logging has continued until the present day”, village head Ernes Kaize told Tabloid Jubi on Wednesday (23/03/2016).
Kaize said that over the last three years, local people who hold customary rights in the area have not been given work. This is despite an agreement with the company that villagers would be given work for as long as the company remained in operation.
He said that he had visited the company leadership repeatedly and asked about this agreement to provide a livelihood for local people. However unfortunately, the response has been less than satisfactory. “Honestly, I’m getting bored of going to the company, but never getting a clear response”, he said.
When asked about the amount of land used, Kaize admitted that he didn’t have a clear idea. “I’ve already tried to ask how many hectares of the community’s forest has been felled and how much will be felled, but the company did not give me the data”, he said.
He said that where the land had been cleared, it had been replanted. But this was not the case everywhere. “We hope that the company is truly committed to replanting trees in the areas it has felled”, he said.
The Zanegi village secretary, Arnold Basik-Basik confirmed that during the last three years, there were no longer any people from their village working for PT Selaras Inti Semesta. The company fells trees which are then brought to Boepe for processing and sent out of the area.
Fresh bushmeat is a important commodity in Zanegi village.
The people of Zanegi village’s source of livelihood has not changed over time. They rely on being able to hunt deer and cassowaries to sell their meat.
“Selling cassowary and deer meat is a way that people here can get some income. But it’s not reliable because both deer and cassowary are much rarer than before. “
This is because of PT Selaras Inti Semesta which has been logging the forest since 2010, and the forest ecosystem is slowly changing.
Meat can be sold for 30,000 Rupiah a kilo. “That’s actually a very low price. However, the community needs money to buy essential goods such as rice, so we still sell the meat we hunt.”
The Zanegi village secretary Arnold Basik-Basik said that apart from meat, tilapia and snapper fish are other key commodities, especially in the rainy season. In the dry season, people catch the snakehead murrel, which is common in the swamps.