Tue, 15 Jan 2002

City budget stinks without comprehensive plan

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

City councillors and environmentalists criticized the proposed 2002 City Budget on Monday, saying it did not offer a comprehensive plan to handle the city's garbage, mentioning instead only sporadic and short-term projects.

"The short-term projects show that the city was still confused on what kind of system should be used to handle its garbage," said Deputy Chairman of the Council's commission D for development affairs, Ali Imran Hussein.

Ali, of the United Development Party, said that the use of high technology in garbage processing has yet to be clearly addressed in the budget.

According to the proposed budget, some Rp 7.5 billion (US$721,150) would be allocated for the construction of Jakarta's 96-hectare garbage dump in Ciangir, Tangerang.

The planned construction, including road development to the dump, is strange since it has been rejected by local residents and the Tangerang mayoralty.

The planned budget also allocates Rp 18.2 billion for the development of a 71-hectare garbage dump in Marunda, North Jakarta, and Rp 10 billion for another 60-hectare dump in Tegal Alur, West Jakarta.

But the budget does not mention a plan to send its garbage to Bangka island in Bangka Belitung province, despite the fact that City Spokesman Muhayat had said it was a priority.

None of the locations of the alternative sites were disclosed as of Monday, since the city administration still hopes to continue using the 104-hectare dump site in Bantar Gebang, Bekasi.

Sutiyoso has allocated Rp 10 billion for Bantar Gebang dump, despite a deadline that the municipality has set to close the dump on Jan. 31, if Jakarta cannot agree with it on a new memorandum of understanding with new terms.

Separately, chairman of the city chapter of the Indonesian Environment Forum (Walhi), Ahmad Syafruddin, said he viewed the projects in the budget as insufficient to resolve the city's burgeoning garbage problem.

"The administration failed to involve the people as an important part in the garbage management; without a public role, the city will never be free from garbage problems," Syafruddin said.

Public participation in the separation of organic from non- organic trash, along with the proper implementation of a sanitary landfill system, remain the best ways in which to handle the garbage problem, he said.

A bylaw with stricter punishment for people who do not separate their trash is needed to improve the public's role, he remarked. "It will take between five and ten years to make the public better appreciate the problem," he said. But nevertheless, the process should "be started now," he added.

Community and neighborhood chiefs should also play a vigorous part in the campaign to handle the city's mountains of garbage, which amounts to a staggering 25,000 cubic meters a day.

City Spokesman Muhayat said earlier that the bylaw could allow city sanitary officers to not pick up trash if it was not separated into organic and non-organic bags.

However, the administration believes that the trash problem was caused by a week-long closure of Bantar Gebang garbage dump by Bekasi municipality last month.

Governor Sutiyoso's speech proposing the budget Monday, failed to mention whether the city would pursue public campaigns and would allocate fund for it.

He only revealed that some projects would be planned to handle the refuse problem; but he failed to make his priority.

"We are still negotiating with Bekasi; but we would find other efforts to solve the problem," he said, without elaboration.