The remains of three colonial buildings on the Enggano Island in North Bengkulu district, should be preserved as a tourist attraction in the province of Bengkulu.
Some of the Enggano islanders discovered the remains of fortress-like buildings in 2010, with some of their parts damaged due to erosion at the Malakoni and Apoho hamlets.
The remains, believed to be of the Dutch, Japanese, and British colonial era, have a high historical value, which must be preserved to attract tourists.
Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Enggano Island also boasts a large variety of beautiful landscapes, jungles, and white sandy beaches with waves perfect for surfing.
Besides this, the island has a vast marine and ecotourism potential, but it lacks the necessary supporting infrastructure, Zulvan Zaviery, a developer of the Enggano island tourism industry noted in Bengkulu, on Thursday.
Therefore, he has called on the North Bengkulu district government to build the requisite supporting infrastructure including accommodation, communication network, and transportation facility.
According to him, transportation from Bengkulu to the island is very difficult on normal days, and it tends to pose an even greater challenge during bad weather.
"The Enggano Island is accessible by a local ferry, and a one-way trip usually takes around 12 hours, though it depends on the weather conditions," he remarked, adding that the tourists, who arrive there by ferry, often face difficulties in finding an accommodation.
Zulvan emphasized that the Enggano Island, with its bountiful great reefs off the coast, is also one of the places in Indonesia to enjoy surfing.
But, so far, many foreign tourists, who enjoy surfing, came to the Enggano Island by cruise ship, rather than by ferry from Bengkulu.
He added that the tourism potential of the Enggano Island can be used as an alternative to improve the livelihood of the local people. The island has five ethnic communities with a wealth of customs and cultures that can be showcased to the tourists.
Electricity is also another decisive factor for the development of tourism on the Enggano Island.
Therefore, the local people have also urged the local government to build a diesel power plant (PLTD) to provide electricity to some villages that are still reeling in the dark.
"Some houses in the villages that are deprived of electricity already operate on solar energy, but thousand others are without electricity, and therefore, we urge the North Bengkulu district government, where the Enggano Island is situated, to build a PLTD for them on a priority basis," Karya Enggano Foundation Chairman M. Basyir Kauno stated in Bengkulu on Thursday.
According to him, the people have long been waiting for the local government to fulfill its promise to build a power plant for them, but so far, it has failed to act upon it.
"We want the government to build a PLTD immediately, so that thousands of houses, which are still in the dark, can be supplied electricity" Kauno asserted.
He pointed out that the state electricity company, PT PLN of the Bengkulu branch, in 2011, planned to build a micro-hydro power plant (PLTMH) for the people living on the Enggano Island.
A preliminary survey for the project was conducted to build the micro-hydro power plant at the Malakoni village on the Kuala Besar river stream.
Kauno added that the survey also covered the water volume required from the Kuala Besar River to generate electricity for the houses across the six villages on the Enggano Island, but the project has yet to materialize.
Meanwhile, Engganos original community leader, Rafli, recently remarked in Bengkulu that the island is home to abundant natural resources, including flora and fauna, such as the wild boar, wild cow, wild buffalo, turtles, and around 10 thousand hectares of conserved forest, which can attract tourists.
Therefore, the original inhabitants of the island have reminded the government and related parties about the importance of island conservation in the North Bengkulu district.
"We have repeatedly reminded the government and all public offices in the North Bengkulu district to pay serious attention towards conservation of the Enggano Island," Rafli noted.
He stated the aforementioned with regard to granting permits to newcomers to develop and use new lands on the island to grow crops. The island has a population of around 2.8 thousand people.
According to him, the conservation of the Enggano Island depends on the condition of the coral reefs and the existence of the remaining mangrove forests and rivers.
Rafli pointed out that the local communities, for the sake of conservation, strongly reject granting of permits to the newcomers to open plantation areas on the island.
"The granting of permits to newcomers to till the land on Enggano Island will practically destroy the remaining forests," he explained.
Rafli urged the island village administrators to be more selective while granting permits to newcomers to till the land situated about 106 miles from Bengkulu city.
"The opening of new lands for agriculture also holds a special significance to the original Enggano islanders, thus rituals must be carried out for the sake of conservation," he reiterated.
He further added that there are six villages, which include Kahyapu, Kaana, Malakoni, Apoho, Meok, and Banjarsari, with the central administration located in Apoho, and five native tribes of Kauno, Kaahua, Kaitora, Kaharuba, and Kaharubi on the island with a total area of 40 sq. kilometers.
Meanwhile, Malakoni Village Head Tedy Sunardi Kaharubi explained that the newcomers to Enggano Island are required to bring along a recommendation letter from their places of origin.
"They are required to bring along a recommendation letter from their places of origin and then make an official statement that they are ready to reside in Malakoni village," he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Iskandar Kauno, the tribal chief coordinator pointed out that the people of Enggano have also objected to the exploitation of giant clams, also known as Kima clams, as it could cause damage to the ecosystem of the island.
"We strongly oppose the exploitation of Kima clams as they cause damage to the coral reef ecosystem, which acts as buffer for the island," Iskandar stated in Bengkulu some time ago.
According to him, this exploitation was started by a businessman from Magelang, Central Java, who had asked the local people to collect giant clams from the ocean floor and was ready to pay Rp.1 thousand per kilogram.
The exploitation often spread to the Kioyo conservation area, he noted."They did that on the pretext of taking out only the dead clams. However, they would still tear up the dead clams from the living coral reef and that can destroy the ecosystem," he explained, adding that the Kima clam is one of the protected sea biota on the island. (Antara)