Tue, 08 Jul 2003

700 Kapuk Muara residents fear possible eviction

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some 700 residents of Kapuk Muara subdistrict, Penjaringan, North Jakarta, felt some slight relief on Monday when city public order officials did not evict them even though a deadline set by the administration for them to leave had passed.

However, they are still living in fear of possible eviction at any time following the 72-hour deadline given to them in a letter dated July 3 and signed by North Jakarta Mayor Effendi Anas.

Tasyaya Purnama, the residents' coordinator, told The Jakarta Post that the mayor's eviction order was the second one they had received. The first came on May 12 and was signed by Penjaringan district head Setiabudi.

He said that the city administration had offered them compensation of Rp 500,000 (US$61) per family for the houses, regardless of their size. The residents were also urged to move to low-cost apartments in Pluit, where the monthly rent is around Rp 90,000.

Gozali, a 60-year-old Betawi (native Jakarta) figure in the neighborhood, turned down the offer.

"I have all the documents (for the house). The administration should pay accordingly or at least compensate us with suitable land somewhere else in the city," said Gozali, who has lived in the area since he was born in 1943.

Besides possible eviction, Gozali also feared an outbreak of fire given their refusal to leave the area.

"You know ... when there's a planned eviction, it is usually followed by a fire. We are prepared for the worst," he said.

"Our last hope is an audience with the governor and the City Council," he added grimly.

The residents, mostly Betawi people, have lived in the area for two generations. They claim to have proper title documents for their houses and land, and insisted that they did not live right on the river bank even though their houses are located only a meter from the river.

A source at the North Jakarta Municipality told the Post that the Kapuk Muara case was a part of the administration's bigger plan for improved drainage along the Angke river in an effort to overcome flood problems in the city.

The administration plans to widen the river to 45 meters from its current width of eight meters.

The source said that the plan would affect the lives of thousands of people along the Angke's riverbanks. But the administration, in cooperation with a non-governmental organization, has provided some low-cost apartments to house the affected residents.