TEMPO.CO, Puncak Jaya - Social Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said that she was surprised to find out that a sack of cement costs Rp1,7 million in Ilaga Market, in Puncak Regency, Papua.
"Prices here are ridiculously expensive, especially when compared to levels that we are used to in cities across Java," said the Minister at Ilaga Market on Wednesday, July 22, 2015.
The Minister took the time to visit the market In between her visit to the site of the riots in Tolikara. Ilaga market is a known traditional market that sells vegetables and basic necessities - which was quite crowded at the time of her visit.
Upon entering the market and greeting some of the vendors, the Minister said that she was surprised to find out that prices are markedly to prices in Java - for example, a 900ml pack of cooking oil costs Rp50,000, an egg costs Rp5,000, and a 600ml bottle of mineral water is priced at Rp25,000.
The Minister also bought some Rp100,000 worth of oranges, which she then distributed to children who crowded the area to meet her.
It is known that the inflated prices in Papua is caused by the lack of supporting transport infrastructre, which makes it very expensive to bring produces and necessities needed by local residents. "These conditions need to be balanced out by price control mechanisms - which cannot be equated to regulations that applies elsewhere, where infrastructres are relatively developed," she said.
Khofifah said that the construction of a trunk road that connects Timika and Tolikara - which is only 80 kilometres apart - could significantly help the local economy. The construction of such a road will definitely help residents to sell their local produces - thus increasing supply and stops prices from spiralling out of control.
Khofifah is currently in Ilaga to inspect the areas impacted by the continuous hail and snow, which has caused severe shortages of food as harvests fail. Apart from Puncak regency, the regencies of Lani Jaya and Nduga has also been adversely impacted by the continuous hail and snow - which began on July 5, 2015.