Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Residents protest ring road project

Wahyuana, The Jakarta Post, Bekasi

At least 100 residents of the Pasar Kecapi and Jatiwarna subdistricts in Pondok Melati, Bekasi, protested against the Jakarta Outer Ring Road (JORR) project on Thursday after they failed to reach an agreement about land prices.

The protesters burned tires and tore down some construction work along the Hamkam Raya-Jatiasih section.

"We had agreed to give up our houses and lots and receive compensation worth Rp 1.1 million a meter as stipulated in a decree issued by Bekasi Mayor Ahmad Zurfaih. But, until now, PT Jasa Marga has not paid us. I heard Jasa Marga does not want to pay compensation," Awing Asmawi, a protester, said to The Jakarta Post.

The angry residents said they would give Jasa Marga two weeks to pay, or they would destroy the toll road now under construction.

State company Jasa Marga is currently constructing a nine- kilometer road linking Hamkam Raya in East Jakarta with Cikunir in Bekasi, West Java. The Hamkam Raya-Cikunir road is one of two sections of the Hankam Raya-Jatiasih toll road project.

Protesters from Jatiwarna staged the protest at the Hankam Raya-Jatiasih section. They said Jasa Marga had not paid compensation for more than 8 hectares of land affected by the project.

Sunarto, head of the toll road project, told the Post on Thursday that the firm was not willing to pay compensation as high as Rp 1.1 million a square meter.

"We cannot afford to pay Rp 1.1 million a meter," said Sunarto, complaining that land brokers had provoked local residents to raise the prices of land there.

"We have proposed an alternative solution to the dispute. We agree to pay Rp 1.1 million for land used for the main body of the road. The farther the land from the body of the main road, the cheaper it becomes," he said.

Sunarto said the firm had set up a small team, which along with Ministry of Public Works officials, would negotiate with residents and the Bekasi municipal administration.

"We will wait for the results of their negotiations," he said.

Municipality spokesman Endang Suharyadi said "the residents have agreed to give up their lands for Rp 1.1 million a square meter. If Jasa Marga does not want to pay that much, they have to negotiate directly with these people."

Last week, a special team established by the Bekasi Council to help to find resolution to the land dispute had met with a team from the Ministry of Public Works.

Ministry of Public Works official and team member Riri said the team was working on new quotes for the land affected by the project.

The development of the outer ring road project started in the early 1990s by private company PT Marga Nurido Bhakti.

After the 1997 economic crisis, the company ran out of money and the construction was stopped.

In 2000, however, Jasa Marga took over the project.