Jayapura, Jubi – The internet blackout in Jayapura City and its surrounding areas since late April has prompted people to gather in several spots with a 4G internet network even if the connection is still unstable.
Every 6 p.m. local time, tens of people in their vehicles occupy both sides of the road from the St. Fransiskus Asisi Waena Vocational Seminary to the Waena Power Plant. As the night gets dark, more people come over including students, journalists, athletes, and office workers. Some do their work or send assignments while others seek entertainment such as playing games, downloading songs, or checking on their social media.
Revan and Eben, both rowing athletes who will compete at the upcoming National Games (the Papua PON), choose to hang out in front of the Waena Power Plant from 7 to 9 p.m to access the internet. They want to communicate with fellow rowing athletes outside Jayapura.
“We come here to check Whatsapp messages. Our friends often ask for updates on the national games, we want to keep them updated. With the internet blackout, it becomes difficult to share information, as well as getting information from outside Papua,” said Revan.
He said that the internet network around the Waena Power Plant was pretty good for sending and receiving messages through Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram but opening a large image or video took a long time.
Meanwhile, a student of the Ottow and Geisler University, Fredrik Mangga, said he had been hanging out in front of the Dian Harapan Hospital for two days to do his campus assignments.
“I’m here to do my assignments and send them to my lecturer in Wamena. Afterward, I surf on my social media, watch YouTube videos, and download songs until my phone battery runs out,” Mangga told Jubi.
Ever since the internet service disruption, online learning has not been possible in most places in Jayapura. Cenderawasih University student Agus Rumpeday said the Cenderawasih University now conducted offline learning in shifts to limit the number of participants in order to curb the COVID-19 transmission.
“The study plan is hindered, the online learning is hindered, as well as the assignments. We cannot use the internet to do our assignments so we rely on books in the campus library,” Rumpeday said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Another student named Tia said she even had to spend more money to do her assignments without the internet. “With the internet, I used to spend Rp 100,000 a month. Without the internet, I have to buy phone credit to call my college friends or lecturers. I have spent Rp 100,000 in only two weeks,” she said.
Not only the education sector, the economy, government activities, tourism, and health in Jayapura City, Jayapura Regency, and Sarmi Regency have been heavily disrupted by the internet disturbance. A health worker who refused to be named told CNN Indonesia that most hospitals in Jayapura had been sending their workers to Makassar, South Sulawesi, to input data of the COVID-19 patients.
The internet service in Jayapura was down on April 30, 2021 due to broken submarine cables of state-owned PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (PT Telkom). PT Telkom’s Papua General Manager Sugeng Widodo said his party was now focusing to provide internet service in government offices to maximize public service.
“We strive to first supply the governor’s office, the mayor’s office, the regent’s office, and the police and military headquarters so that government activities can run and serve the public,” Widodo said, adding that this effort would take around two weeks.
Meanwhile, the reparation of the broken cables is expected to be finished in the first week of June. “We have chartered a ship from Singapore to repair the broken cables,” he said.
Currently, there are several hotspots in Jayapura City to access the internet at low bandwidth speed. Among them are the Graha Youtefa Street, the Dian Harapan Hospital, the Waena Power Plant, from the Soedibjo Sardadi Naval Hospital to the Jayapura Port and Yarmokh Power Plant, from Imbi District to the Marthen Indey Hospital, from Percetakan Street to Dafonsoro Hotel, the Bank Indonesia office in the APO area, the KONI office, the Jayapura Mall, the Papua Police headquarter, and the Dok II Jayapura Hospital.
Reporter: Theo Kelen and Ramah
Editor: Edho Sinaga