Picture 1 . The one and only bridge to access Gampong Alue Beloh and Krueng Mengkom Seunagan Sub Disctrict, Nagan Raya District

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, the morning sky was quite bright even though heavy rain just poured in Alue Buloh and Krueng Mungkom Gampong1, Seunagan Sub Disctrict, Nagan Raya Disctrict, Aceh Province. Along the way, our car is the only vehicle that passed the gravel roads and bridges that connected by wood—as the only access in and out of the village—while on the side of the road there were still puddles from the previous rain.

When we arrived in the village, our team – Edy Syahputra as local facilitator and coordinator for GeRAK Aceh Barat and Taufik Munawar as staff of GeRAK Aceh Barat – went straight to the Alue Buloh Village Hall to hold the meeting with the communities. This discussion was carried out as the first step of the implementation of the Social Accountability in Mining Sector Project supported by the GPSA-World Bank. The project aims to improve the management and governance of the mining sector at the local level through collaborative social accountability mechanisms.

Local government and communities around mining site in two gampong (village) welcoming our visit as well as the agenda offered by our project. The community hopes that GeRAK Aceh can reconcile the interests of the company and fulfill the rights of affected people. This first visit was to gather and socialize the project agenda to the village community, especially the first ring residents who lives around the coal mining site which managed by PT BARA ENERGI LESTARI (PT BEL), besides that we also discuss and conduct mapping of various problems which faced by the village community related to mining activities.

Following up this discussion, we hope that we could identify a collaborative plan between the parties to develop appropriate accountability tools to solve mining management problems, especially related to the involvement of the surrounding community as directly affected groups.

Gampong Alue Buloh and Krueng Mungkom, which are included in the administrative area of Nagan Raya District, were chosen because they are directly affected by mining. Most of the people of the two gampongs are farmers in the remaining fields with rice as the main commodities.

It is more than our expectations that more than 20 participants attended the village hall which came from various levels of gampong society. those are Mukim Paya Udeng (a legal community unit under a sub-district, in charge of several gampongs), Alue Buloh Gampong and Krueng Mangkom local government, Tuha Peut Gampong (TPG)/Village Consultative Body (BPD) (BPD) in the Aceh government, representatives of the Gampong Alue Buloh and Krueng Mangkom communities, as well as women’s representatives from the area around mining site.

Picture 2. Keuching Krueng Mangkong revealed his opinion on Tuesday (30/3). He hopes social accountability could bring good impact to Gampong economy activity

Discussion was started with the speech from Keuchik or Head of Krueng Mangkom representative of communities. Keuchik Alue Buloeh is very supportive toward our agendas. Instead before we held the discussion, GeRAK Aceh had assisted the gampong to report ex-mine pits that had not been reclaimed by the corporate to the District People’s Representative Council (DPRK) until the issue reached the media.

Based on interviews with village communities, we have found so far that the two gampongs have limited access to mining information. There has not been any disclosure about local revenues from the mining sector: from the beginning of the business chain until it becomes local revenue to finance local development.

The PT BEL production permit itself was granted by Regent of Nagan Raya in 2010 through Regent Decree Number 545/41/SK.IU-OP/2010 with area of 1,495 Ha. Some of the problems that resurfaced includes open-mining pit that have not been reclaimed, causing water flows from the open-mining pit and into the people’s rice fields, and a number of community agreements with corporate that have not been fulfilled. Also regarding CSR which is difficult to distribute because it involves third parties (vendors), lack of local community involvement in the mining operation and employment opportunity.

The only access road in and out of the gampong is still rocky and inadequate, also a bridge that has tilted, even at some points it is connected by wood, and part of the head of the bridge (abutment) has been eroded by the river flow.

Corporate assistance to gampong community in education and health services appears to have stopped in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, educational assistance only giving out elementary school uniforms, while in 2017 Posyandu workers in the ring one were given health training. Regarding the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, the community complained about assistance that was not well realized, which was only given once by the company in 2017. After that, the process of realizing CSR to the community must go through a third party (vendor) which is considered difficult for the community.

Mining should run with the principles of good governance. Local governments and corporates should ensure that communities around the mining area can live properly side by side with mining activities by fulfilling residents’ rights, such as access to information, health services, education, as well as the main priority, environmental sustainability.

We left the village in the afternoon with a lot of homework such as how we direct and deepen the issue of social accountability, how the community involve in the policy-making/monitoring of revenue allocation, and how to ensure company compliance toward social and environmental obligation. These contexts should be considered in designing the most suitable social accountability scheme adopted in the project, particularly in Aceh, one of the pilot areas.

Written by

Adzia Rizkika
Communication Specialist Awrago

  1. Gampong is the term for village in Aceh