Jokowi Vows to Finish 4,000-km Trans-Papua Highway
"The differences between the western, middle and eastern parts of Indonesia are still visible," the president said. "When the infrastructure is done, I'm sure the commodities prices in Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua will be more equal. The gap will no longer be as big as we see right now."
Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono confirmed that everything will be finished by 2019, when Joko's term ends.
"Some of the problems we're facing are about land," the minister said. "We are now trying with local governors and mayors to solve problems with a 30-kilometer stretch of road between Manokwari and Kibar that we haven't touched for five years," he said, noting that the president himself would get involved.
The government also announced that it set aside more than Rp 4 trillion ($300 million) to build roads, bridges and homes in West Papua.
Ellen Tangkudung, a transportation expert from the University of Indonesia (UI), said the Trans-Papua Highway is indeed important for local development in West Papua and Papua.
"The problem in Papua is that developing infrastructure there is challenging because it is a mountainous region," Ellen said. "But the region desperately needs connectivity to ease commodity price disparity."
Ellen said the government must focus on connecting ports and airports in Papua with roads because that remains the most efficient way to boost development in the region.