A trip to North Central Timor district, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), cannot be complete without a visit to cross-border post (PLBN) Wini in Humusu C Village.
President Joko Widodo inaugurated the cross-border post, which is a 5–6 hours’ drive from the province’s seat of government, Kupang city, on January 19, 2018. PLBN Wini, which serves as a gate for the Indonesian and Timor-Leste people, is one of the most majestic structures in NTT.
NTT province is home to three posts that separate Indonesia and Timor-Leste, namely PLBN Motaain in Belu district, PLBN Motamasin in Malaka district, and PLBN Wini in North Central Timor district. The three cross-border posts are all type A PLBNs.
As visitors enter the gate of PLBN Wini, they are welcomed by the words “Wini Indonesia” written in red and white. The words have become an iconic landmark of PLBN, with visitors often using them as a backdrop for selfies.
Don Gaspar, the chief administrator at PLBN Wini, said that the cross-border post integrates several cross-border services, such as immigration, customs, quarantine, police, and military.
According to Gaspar, the integration of the services is meant to support officials in monitoring the inflow and outflow of people, whose number reaches about 100 per day and 200–300 daily during holidays.
On average, 25 vehicles cross the PLBN every day, he informed.
He said that most people cross the border to get to work and take part in customary occasions.
People residing in the border area, both on the Indonesia and Timor-Leste sides, have strong traditional and emotional ties, which results in high transboundary mobility, he explained.
By operating the majestic PLBN, Indonesia is asserting its territorial integrity in parts of Timor Island, he said. The large structure of the cross-border post sends a signal to other countries that Indonesia is genuinely paying attention to all its regions, including those in border areas, he added.
“Our country has built such a majestic PLBN, notifying the neighboring country that our government also properly manages Indonesia’s border areas,” he stated.
The cross-border post spans an area of about five hectares and is divided into two zones — the core zone and the supporting zone.
The core zone supports the crossing of goods, people, and vehicles. It houses an integrated inspection building, a kennel, and a car wash that disinfects vehicles arriving from Timor-Leste.
There is also a weighing bridge, an impound building for large vehicles, and a bypass building, as well as departure and arrival checkpoints in the core zone.
The supporting zone houses a guesthouse and a multipurpose building. People can stay in the guesthouse for around Rp370 thousand (US$24) per night and use the multipurpose building for Rp1.4 million (US$90.7) per day.
In addition, residences for non-local employees of the PLBN, a market, a food court, and a square, are situated in the supporting zone.
The Indonesian government does not impose a fee on those seeking to visit PLBN Wini. However, those wishing to cross to Timor-Leste need to show their passports. The cross-border post operates every day from 8–11 a.m. and then from 1–4 p.m.
Empowering local residents
PLBN Wini has also become the epicenter of the local economy since it is empowering many local residents by employing them as workers for security, cleaning and technicians.
The empowerment of the people living in the vicinity of the PLBN is expected to stimulate economic growth, which will, in turn, elevate the living standards of the people.
Moreover, Gaspar said that for the development of the PLBN, the government bought land from local residents. Land-clearing agreements were reached between the Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry, North Central Timor government, and landowners.
The landowners accepted the government’s bid to buy their land on the condition that their children would be provided opportunities to work at the cross-border post.
PLBN Wini is offering three categories of jobs, namely technicians, security officers, and janitors. Currently, it is empowering a total of 98 local workers.
The PUPR Ministry opened its first employee recruitment in January 2016. At that time, 10 school students were among the job applicants. Due to their underage status, the 10 students could not proceed to work at the PLBN.
However, after the students finished their studies in August 2017, they were finally accepted as employees.
Later, in 2019, the PUPR Ministry recruited local workers for the supporting zone. The ministry is offering a wage rate that is in accordance with NTT’s provincial minimum wage of Rp1.975 million (US$128). Employee candidates are also offered social security programs.
The government believes that engaging locals as employees at PLBN Wini and enabling economic activities in the border area will stimulate economic growth and improve the welfare of locals.