The first time I expressed my desire to visit Seko, to use the services of a motorcycle taxi, I was warned to be careful and bring enough supplies. The stories are quite scary, from a night in the middle of the forest to the tragedy of a broken motorbike.
Seko is located about 120 kilometers from Sabang, North Luwu, or 600 kilometers from Makassar. This area is divided into three regions, Seko, Seko Tengah, and Seko Padang.
Finally, on June 8, 2016, together with two companions from the Tana Luwu Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN), I explored the contortions of the road for 120 kilometers. From asphalt roads, concrete rebates, and sharp gravel mounds from mountain rocks to clay. Towards evening, we took a rest in Hongkong Village.
The distance from Sabang, the first village we started our journey and reached Rongkong, is not half the distance to Seko.
The next morning, Ian, my motorcycle taxi driver, used my backpack as a backrest at the end of the motorcycle seat.
Sure enough, past Rongkong the road started to get smaller. Several times the motorcycle tire slipped and made the vehicle sway. When he let out a screaming sound and exhaled deeply from exhaustion. he laughed.
Walking the road to Seko, really makes all bodies ache. Luckily the scenery along the way makes the mood happy. Rice field plots are arranged following the contours of the hill and dense forest canopy. Cool air.
There are two ways to reach Seko. By land use motorcycle taxis and planes. However, small planes with a crew of 10 people are always full. I tried my luck for three weeks on the waiting list, until I returned home without getting a seat.
If you use a motorcycle taxi, the travel time for dry roads is two days and one night, and during the rainy season up to three days. For fees, between IDR 1 million-IDR 1.5 million one way.
Until the 2000s, reaching Seko, only by horse. Horses and people carried loads accompanying them which took up to a week.
When the motorbike taxi arrived at an area called Mabusa, we lay down on long wooden chairs. In this place, there are dozens of motorcycle taxis resting. Some are going to Seko, some are going to Sabbang.
Mabusa, such a stopover. There are several stalls selling food, coffee, and even a small patch of room to stay overnight. Rent IDR 30,000 per night, facilities for blankets and thin mattress rolls.
Mabusa was on high. Thick fog and very cold water. To continue the journey must buy a raincoat and use a thick jacket. In the afternoon, the fog was thick and visibility was only a few tens of meters.
If you bring your vehicle to Seko, you need special expertise. If you encounter a sticky and muddy dirt road, there is only one route, following the initial rider’s tire path. Along the way, the tire route is like irregular ditches.
Ian has been trying the streets of Seko, since six years ago. He has used six motorbikes. According to him, one motorbike for motorbike taxis to Seko lasts six months at most. After that, the sound of the machine will sound like grated coconut.
All Ojek service tenants go to Seko, using scooters. These motors will be “stripped” as the hood cover of the frame is removed. Shockbecker exalted. The chain is replaced, and of course, the gear wears bigger. Banpun must be thorny flowers.
On the way around 12.00, we arrived at an area called Palandoang. This is another stop for motorcycle taxi drivers. At this place, we had lunch and straightened our bodies that were crushed.
I asked or complained a little to Ian. “How much further, does this kind of road continue to Seko?” ask me.
” You stay away. A little bit more. The road is three times as bad,” Ian replied.
Motor has climbed into the raft. The journey like a catwalk “hell” will begin soon. Uphill road. The sound of a motorbike-like crying could be heard from a distance. Several times passengers had to get off, choosing to walk.
The motor sank mud up to the seat. On this road, drivers who are not agile will fall. I encountered several motorbikes stuck. Some people help, push and pull.
Their faces were covered in sweat and dirt. Every day this muddy road is packed with motorcyclists.
They carry passengers, people, and daily necessities. There is a motorbike with the rear carrying chickens. There is a motorbike full of snacks. There are also clothes. These items will be sold at Seko. They are traders.
From Seko, when the merchandise is sold out, they will bring back cocoa, coffee, and rice. Some motors are capable of carrying loads of up to 350 kilograms.
“Carrying goods is much easier than passenger passengers. If the goods fall, it’s not a problem, if people have to look after them, “said Dail, another motorcycle taxi driver.
Dail, motorcycle taxi drivers are more experienced. He passed several muddy paths without even getting off. He looks easy, so memorized the ins and outs of the route. Dail has been a motorcycle taxi driver for almost 10 years.
It’s not just a matter of bad road infrastructure. In Palandoang, where the motorbike crossed, I met several children of elementary school age. One of them was named Anas. While waiting for the motorcycle queue to cross, he brewed coffee.
Anas has not continued his studies for several years. He stopped. The reason was that there were no surviving teachers in the village. Always changing and soon they leave their students.
Asphalt is a substitute word for some motorcycle taxi drivers to declare a good starting road. However, the good road for them was full of potholes and rocky outcroppings.
On the thatch ridge, there are two stalls and two roads. Go right towards Seko Padang–where the airport is-and go straight to Seko Tengah. This is our resting place.
The two stalls are just loans. The stall owner once proposed to buy the plot of land, but the owner was not found out where.
According to him, grasslands are the company’s assets. “This land is mostly the company’s concession area,” said Dewi Sartika, administrator of AMAN Tana Luwu.
It was dark, we had passed Sae. Previously, Ikha, Dewi’s nickname, reminded her to see the area where a large dam was to be built.
That said, the water reservoir will be channeled to Ratte, Seko Tengah, as a hydroelectric power plant.
The company that wants to build a hydropower plant is PT Seko Power Prima with 480 MW of power.
In Sae, the DAM is 100 hectares in area. The PLTA powerhouse is in Ratte, within a straight line of 18 kilometers.
From Sae, Seko Power will build tunnels through several villages including Embonatana.
This is the concern of some residents, who will be evicted when the PLTA is built.
We arrived at Tanamakaleang Village, around 21.00. Some of the local people treat us with typical Seko coffee and palm wine. Refreshing.
“This is us fighting not to be expelled from the village. At Seko, we are happy. If we ran into trouble the next day, people would easily exert force on us. Because it is far from the city,” said Andri, a resident of Seko, our host.