Facing a Covid-19 Attack, Sea Lanes Must Continue to Be Safe

One of the patrol ships of the Indonesia Coast Guard (Bakamla), KN Pulau Nipah-321 Island. PUSPEN TNI

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is a global disaster. It does not look at race, wealth or power. All countries struggle to save their people. All resources are mobilized to deal with the global war against the pandemic. The world is truly faced with a new enemy that has never been predicted before.

Sea transportation has a very vital role to ensure food and medicine to the destination. This effort is not easy, in a situation that requires everyone to stay at home or work from home. However, without good sea transportation, the threat of a crisis will be even closer.

The lockdown policy carried out by neighboring countries in the region caused an exodus of the Indonesian Migrant Workers, especially from Malaysia. This situation increases the complexity of the control of the Covid-19, this is due to the opening of the Indonesian Migrant Workers entrance by sea along the Malacca Strait.

To anticipate this, the Government has designated Tanjung Balai Karimun and Batam seaports as official ports for the Indonesian Migrant Workers exodus from Malaysia. The health protocol will be enforced strictly at the official port.

Then what is the coast guard contribution? Badan Keamanan Laut (Bakamla), in this case. As an Indonesia Coast Guard, Bakamla’s duties universally include maritime security, maritime safety, and defense reserve components in the maritime defense aspect.

To secure sea transportation routes where food and medicine are highly awaited, Bakamla will continue to be present. As well as safeguarding the Indonesian Migrant Workers exodus through illegal lane, Bakamla has even conducted operation cross-border—called Operasi Garda Lintas Batas—to carry out isolation of Indonesian Migrant Workers to use official lanes and guarantee they pass the established health protocols. Bakamla focuses on illegal lane that are often used.

The sacrifice of the ship’s crew by risking their lives during the pandemic, is in line with Bakamla’s efforts to ensure the arrival of goods and ensure the return of all Indonesian migrant workers through health protocols, so as not to bring the virus to his hometown.

Bakamla’s presence represents the state’s presence. The vitality of sea transportation in a pandemic situation largely determines the success of Covid-19 tackle. Not only surviving the attack, but also anticipating new problems, such as the affected economy.

Let’s see the mission of Bakamla. First, realisation of national and international maritime security which able to guard the security and safety in the sea territorial and jurisdiction of Indonesia and represent the character of Indonesia as an island nation.

Second, realisation of a sovereign Indonesia, independent, and strengthen the character as a maritime nation through Bakamla as the guardian of the Global Maritime Fulcrum—called ‘Poros Maritim Dunia’.

Third, realisation of Indonesia to be an independent maritime nation, strongly advanced, and based on national interests.

Control of the sea can represent the presence of a country that can save its people from Covid-19 attacks. Saving lives are supported by food and medicine, from the success of logistics and sea transportation. Solid actions for adequate sea security.

The efforts of the Indonesian government to become a maritime nation, in the determination of the Global Maritime Fulcrum, are being tested for several times. Securing sea transportation routes during the current global disaster is clear evidence of how Indonesia is called a maritime nation.

A Voyage Together

Indonesia and neighboring countries view maritime security threats as common problems, but often use different approaches to deal with them. Despite tensions at higher levels of government, what is needed is a common perception that cooperation is important even when the bilateral or multilateral relationship is under stress. Cooperation can be both a way to build and maintain trust and an end in itself.

In Indonesia nothing is more important than personal ties. These links need to be consistently maintained, not only between political and military leaders but also between lower-level government officials to build trust through a bottom-up approach. This requires a close and constant interaction between strategic and operational level policymakers. Therefore, personal ties should underpin the formal consultative and dialogue processes to provide ballast in the relationship with neighboring countries.

Bakamla in collaboration with the Malaysia Coast Guard (APMM), it’s very helpful for both parties in securing the sea traffic of migrant workers. Both parties routinely exchange information and continue to increase interaction during the pandemic.

Faced with a global outbreak, inter-country collaboration is needed. Contributions by helping each other and preventing the Covid-19 from spreading further can be started from securing the sea. At some point, the success of going through the global war against the Covid-19 later is a good cooperation between countries. Not forgetting, their coast guard contribution.