Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Salmon Kareth, the 49-year-old manager of state electricity company PLN's Jayapura Customer Service Unit (UP3), believes that electricity has brought change to Papua, the land where the Cenderawasih (bird-of-paradise) roams free.
Kareth, a Papuan native, has been working at the state electricity company since 2001 after clearing the PLN employee admission.
He is one of many people behind PLN's success in providing uninterrupted electricity at the Papua PON, which opened on October 2, 2021 and will close on October 15.
His job is to make sure the electricity supply runs without disruptions during PON Papua sports events in Jayapura.
Born on September 12, 1972 in Karetubun, Kareth has been in love with the world of electricity for a long time, not just because he works for the company.
He traces this affinity back to his childhood which was often spent without electricity and in enduring blackouts. The poor access to electricity led to Kareth becoming more interested in the subject.
"Back when I was a kid, only the big cities in Papua had electricity, but my village had none," he recalled. Kareth grew up in Kampung Yukase in Sorong, West Papua.
He said he only saw lights whenever he visited the city. In the city, the lights shone brightly, he said. Meanwhile, at his childhood home, Kareth had an oil lamp as his constant companion while doing homework, writing, or reading.
Thus, Kareth said, he became engrossed with electrical circuits after entering junior high school. He said he was keen on other science subjects, like biology, too.
This fondness for science led to him facing a tough choice: should he attend high school, then major in Science, and pursue biology or attend a technical school (STM) and major in electricity?
He eventually decided on joining an STM in Sorong city, which offered an electricity major.
Then, he got two offers from two STMs in Papua. However, it was just the beginning of his quest.
Slowly but surely, electricity became Kareth's way of life. He decide to not just study, but work in the field.
In 1993, he continued his studies in electrical engineering at Adhi Tama Institute of Technology Surabaya (ITATS).
His alma mater became proof of his love for the world of electrical science.
Meant to be an electrician
Kareth did not originally choose Surabaya as his place of study.
His reason was it was very difficult to find a science major in Papua colleges. The universities in the eastern tip of Indonesia were dominated by social science majors.
"I thought if I went to high school and focused on Biology, I would have become a doctor, but it turned out that I am an electrician," Kareth said, who is the third of five siblings.
After completing college, he returned to Papua and became a lecturer at the Jayapura Institute of Science and Technology (ISTJ), which has now changed its name to Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ).
Kareth's passion to serve the world of electricity grew over time. This aspiration was what led to him deciding to join PLN and emboldening himself to go through the employee selection process.
His first posting was in Papua region's Jayapura branch. He said his job has taken him wherever he liked, such as Makassar in South Sulawesi, before finally bringing him back to Papua.
While serving as a UP3 manager for PLN Biak in 2016, Kareth made a breakthrough: he established access to electricity for the inland regions of Papua, including his own village.
"I was being thankful and wanted to give back to the village because I have worked in the electricity (company), so the village itself should not be forgotten," he expounded.
He did not deny that the effort to provide electricity to all parts of Papua was challenging.
Troubling geographical conditions have forced PLN officers to mobilize by sea, river, and land, he said. It is even more arduous when they must open new paths to reach some areas, he added.
"But we will keep working on bringing electricity there; it is a work in progress," Kareth affirmed.
He said the presence of electricity can bring changes to many things.
For example, people used to doubt that PON can be held in Papua, but PLN UP3 Jayapura, which was trusted by the central and regional PLN, broke the pessimism through its success in presenting a magnificent and comfortable PON, he elaborated.
Kareth said he hopes Papua will be more advanced and prosperous over time.
According to him, massive support for the development of electricity infrastructure can increase Papua's competitiveness and make it equivalent to major cities outside Bumi Cenderawasih.
Meanwhile, PT PLN has deployed a total of 564 officers to secure electricity supply during the 2021 National Games (PON) in Papua Province.
The officers commenced their tasks for the September 19-October 17, 2021 period, PLN's general manager of the Papua and West Papua regional main unit, Abdul Farid, stated earlier.
He also said that PLN has provided related equipment in supporting and securing electricity for the implementation of PON.
The equipment comprises mobile substation units (UGB), mobile cable units (UKB), mobile cable and cubicle units (UKKB), mobile UPS, and mobile generators, he added. (*)