Tue, 11 Oct 1994

Complexity of housing problem

Forcible eviction has occurred again in a recently fire-razed area. This time in Bendungan Hilir in Jakarta.

The configuration of the problem is similar to that of past evictions. The land belongs to the state. The government plans to erect apartments for the people squatting on the land. But the squatters refuse to move out unless the government pays them exorbitant rates of compensation. Meetings between government officials and residents are held and the deadline for eviction is set. Then when demolition day comes incidents occur.

Can we remain quiet in the face of recurring incidents? Yet, we have our concerns. What will become of Jakarta if law is not upheld? Isn't it logical for the government to seize back its land and build better housing for the squatters?

The government will clearly not be able to find its way out of this dilemma on its own.

Is there really no possibility that the amount of compensation given to the residents would be such that they could purchase another house with it? Is there really no possibility of the entrepreneurs, who are going to build the apartments, setting aside part of their profit for the residents?

Isn't there some genius, or pioneering government official, or entrepreneur who is willing to try a novel way out? Indeed, our capability as a nation is being tested.

-- Kompas, Jakarta