The Ombilin coal mine in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, the “oldest coal mining town in Southeast Asia”, has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Sawahlunto Culture and Historical Preservation Agency head Rahmat Gino said the evaluation process for the coal mine went smoothly during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee, which commenced on June 30.
“In addition to Indonesia, there were 20 other countries that supported the nomination,” Rahmat told The Jakarta Post on Saturday, about two hours before the committee unanimously agreed to officially name Sawahlunto’s historic coal mine a World Heritage site.
This year’s World Heritage Committee session awarded World Heritage status to 35 destinations around the world, including five natural sites, two mixed sites (natural and cultural) and 28 cultural sites.
The coal mine in Sawahlunto belongs in the cultural site category.
Rahmat said members of the committee had undergone thorough deliberation on the nominees. He said Sawahlunto was the only Indonesian nominee to be named a World Heritage site this year.
In light of the latest development, there are nine World Heritage sites in Indonesia: the Borobudur temple compound in Malang, Central Java; the Prambanan temple compound in Yogyakarta, Central Java; Komodo National Park in West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara; Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten and Lampung; the Sangiran Early Man Site in Sragen, Central Java; Lorenz National Park in Papua; the subak irrigation system in Bali; the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Aceh, Jambi, and Lampung; and the Ombilin coal mine in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra.
Sawahlunto Deputy Mayor Zohirin Sayuti expressed his enthusiasm for the city’s World Heritage status, saying that the efforts to acquire the status, which began in 2001, had finally paid off.
“[The World Heritage] status will definitely benefit Sawahlunto, West Sumatra province, as well as the country in general. We will be able attract more tourists,” Zohirin said.
He said the World Heritage status should also serve as a serious reminder for historical and cultural preservation around Sawahlunto to ensure the city remains on the UNESCO list.
West Sumatra Cultural Preservation Association head Nurmatias responded positively to the news regarding Sawahlunto’s World Heritage status.
“Congratulations to all of us. Now let’s work together to preserve the site for our own good. We need to commit to a concerted cultural preservation effort that involves all seven regencies and cities, led by the West Sumatra governor,” Nurmatias said.
Described by UNESCO on its tentative list as "the oldest coal mining town in Southeast Asia", Sawahlunto was first proposed as a world heritage site four years ago, according to West Sumatra Tourism, Youth and Sports Agency head Efriyanto.
Sawahlunto's highlights include preserved cultural heritage items, said Efriyanto, although the agency has also prepared other attractions to further boost the city's tourism potential.
Source: Syorfiardi Bachyul / The Jakarta Post
7 July 2019