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Villagers relocated over mining activities

Manado, Ekuatorial – As much as 162 families of Ehe village, Bangka island, North Sulawesi, have approved mining activities in the region, meaning that they will soon be relocated to other region, said a villager, on Monday (10/11)

“Around 95 percent have already sold their houses and lands to the company. It means that Ehe village will soon be relocated to Sipi region. Two schools will be moved,” Spener Sigandong, chief village of Ehe.

Mining activities on Bangka island, comprise of four villages, — Libas, Kahuku, Ehe and Lihunu –, received public attention as PT Mikgro Metal Perdana (MMP) started to explore and exploit iron ore. There are mixed receptions over the issue which have resulted to rising conflicts between villagers, company, and even police officers.

Head of North Minahasa Education, Youth and Sport Department, Max Tata, said that he did not know about the school relocation. “I haven’t heard about the school’s relocation plans or about the kids’ condition in Bangka island,” Tata said.

Nevertheless, field reporting showed that the company had started to built schools in the new settlement location.

Jul Takaliuang, head of North Sulawesi’s Indonesian Commission for Child Protection, said that children have endured psychological abuse as a result of recent conflicts. “There are lots of negative impacts from mining activities, especially for children,” said Takaliuang. “Besides, getting unfair treatment from the school, Kahuku National Junior High, they also experienced social pressures over the conflict.”

Furthermore, she said that many parents sent their children to school outside Bangka island which made them hard to adjust with the environment.

“Sending children to schools outside Bangka island is not about financial issues. But, also social issue, how they can adapt with their environment because children in young ages forced out from the environment they used to grow and live,” she said.

Not only local villagers, but resort owners have been complaining on the mining activities to Commission III, Regional Representative Council, Maya Rumantir, on Monday (10/11) because government had given mining permits over their resort areas. They protested that overlapping permits will push their resort to bankruptcy. Yoseph Ikanubun

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