Indigenous market-women (mama-mama) are the economic backbone of Papuan society. On December 20th 2010, the Provincial government of Papua presented them with a temporary market, a truck, a deed (akta notaris), and donated Rp. 600.000.000 towards Kommpap, the Indigenous Market-Women’s Cooperative. The donations from the Provincial Government represent a small victory for the mama-mama’s struggle for a permanent market-place in the centre of Jayapura. Every morning, these women wake up at 5am and go to Youtefa market on Jalan Baru which serves as a cross-roads for goods coming in from Arso, Sentani and outside of Jayapura. Here, they face non-Papuan (migrant) wholesalers, or middlemen, who sell them goods which are expensive for the mama-mama. Now, with this temporary market, a number of market-women are able to sell shallots, garlic, chicken, cooking oil and grated coconut. With credit from Kommpap, the mama-mama are able to buy more goods..
However, in almost eight months of running the market, there has been no supervision from the government. The Provincial Government of Papua gave responsibility to Jayapura’s municipal authorities to run the market. Yet, there hasn’t been a single person from Jayapura’s government to attend the market and support the mama-mama. For example, electricity bills and water bills are not paid, waste isn’t collected and there is no security organised. The situation for the mama-mama is like ping-pong, they are thrown responsibility for the market they themselves occupy. The slogan ‘Affirmative Action’ that is constantly being used by the Provincial Government of Papua to support indigenous Papuans is meaningless for the mama-mama.
Yakoba Adii (58) says, “we were given a market, that’s it, but who will organise us all? What’s the government going to do about the market next door at Mesran terminal which is run by non-Papuans. There are two markets in Jayapura now, the government should close the market at the terminal over there because it will destroy the economic prospects for the women who sell at this market.” The market at Terminal Mesran is occupied by non-Papuan traders who were relocated from Ampera market. According to the agreement made at the DPRP on February 1 2011, attended by the DPRP, the 2nd Assistant of Jayapura, the Office of Peace and Order and market-women representatives, the traders at Mesran are only permitted to sell cassettes and clothes, not basic goods such as food which the mama-mama are permitted to sell. However, although basic goods are permitted at the temporary market, non-Papuans have also started to selling these items.
The mama-mama are still waiting for a meeting with the former Governor of Papua, Barnabas Suebu, who on September 14 2009 said to some representative market-women at a protest, “my words are the law, a permanent market will be built in 2010 in Jayapura.” The former governor would rather deposit Special Autonomy funds valued at Rp. 2.35 and build a right road rather than build a market for indigenous Papuans.
The presence of a market for Papuans would symbolise how indigenous Papuan traders have been given the opportunity to improve their family’s economic standing independently. Investment in Jayapura has already increased with more shops and malls but economic development has been achieved without the productive power of indigenous Papuans. Papuans will become completely marginalised if they are not trusted to build the economy for themselves. There needs to be a special market in every kabupaten in Papua so that this feeling of being “special” can be harnessed by Papuans to build and manage their own economy.
Cyntia Warwe/Translate : Sophie Croker