The government has launched an online registry to collect data on current and prospective migrant workers in a bid to prevent them from going abroad illegally.
The pilot project, which was launched on Thursday, is a joint effort by the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI) and the government of West Java, which has the highest number of migrant workers of all the country’s provinces.
The system, which will be tested in West Java first before spreading to East Java and West Nusa Tenggara, then to the rest of the country, will record personal and work information, including details about the job and departure dates.
Muhammad Jumhur Hidayat, chairman of the BNP2TKI, said the online system was the first of its kind in Indonesia.
“Other than providing data on migrant workers, this system will also help us avoid the risk of human trafficking and falsification of documents used to send worker abroad illegally,” he said.
“The data will be collected by the manpower offices in each district in the province, and will be made accessible by manpower offices in all other districts in West Java.”
The rollout of the online system comes ahead of the planned introduction of a call center later this year, which the BNP2TKI says will serve as a hot line for migrant workers seeking to report any abuse or other difficulties they face.
Jumhur said once the call center was operational, it would use data from the online system to identify workers in trouble and update information on specific workers.
The call center will also accommodate complaints, queries and reports from the general public, as well as prospective, current and former migrant workers and their families.
Roostiawati, head of foreign cooperation at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration’s directorate for migrant worker placement, said the online system was being introduced in West Java because it was one of the main sources of the country’s labor and the provincial government was able to support it with funding.
Meanwhile, Wahyu Susilo, a migration analyst with the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, doubted the system could do anything to resolve the problems facing the country’s migrant workers.
“It’s nothing new because the BNP2TKI used to have an online system,” he said. “But was it effective? No, it wasn’t.
“If the previous system really did work, why has the BNP2TKI failed to answer even the most basic questions, such as how many Indonesians are working overseas?”
Wahyu added that rather than spend money on a new system, the BNP2TKI should have evaluated and improved the old system.
He said a crackdown was instead needed on unscrupulous placement agencies that charged lower fees but sent workers overseas illegally and without proper documentation.