Mon, 14 Feb 2000

Development control agency comes under fire

JAKARTA (JP): The name is impressive, the City Development Control Agency. Its job is to maintain the supremacy of regulations on city planning, but many people have complained that it contributes to the city's disorganized planning.

The agency has the greatest role to play in establishing successful city planning because it has the authority to control city development programs.

In reality, people can tear down and construct other structures despite city planning regulations stating otherwise after a bit of negotiation with authorized bodies, especially the development control agency.

Several city residents, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, shared their experiences in dealing with the agency with The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Architect Edison Yulius said demolishing a protected building in the city was not difficult, "just pay some tens of million of rupiah and we can construct a new building even in protected areas".

About five years ago, Edison said, one of his clients wanted to demolish an old mansion located in Menteng, Central Jakarta, and build a new house in its place. It would have breached a gubernatorial decree on Menteng as a heritage area.

"But an official at the agency just let the building be demolished after asking for some Rp 10 million," he said.

He said the amount asked for varied according to the location and the building's width.

"About one month ago, another client of mine, who intends to construct a building on Jl. Sam Ratulangi, also in Menteng, was asked to pay Rp 60 million for a building permit.

Moreover, some owners of old buildings have expressed surprise at the lack of support they received from the city agency when they tried to repair old buildings.

An owner of an old building in the downtown Kota area in West Jakarta, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she was asked to pay Rp 8 million to obtain a renovation permit from the development control agency.

"An official said the payment included the fees to obtain recommendation from the museum and restoration agency," she said.

Another woman was asked to pay even more, Rp 30 million, to get a renovation permit for her old building, also in the Kota area.

"It's so ironic that people are told to take care of city heritage, but on the other hand city officials turn a blind eye to the matter," she said.

None of the agency officials could be reached for comment on Saturday.

Edison said it was not surprising that almost 50 percent of the Menteng area, home to hundreds of old, huge mansions of the Dutch colonial era, had changed due to the construction of new and modern constructions.

"So I am not surprised to read articles in the media that parts of the former Supreme Court building have been damaged," he said.

The damages to the rear part of the protected building on Jl. Lapangan Banteng Timur, owned by the Directorate General of the Budget, sparked controversy because the damages were caused by the construction of a new building.

The case of the former Supreme Court building was at least the third in the city recently, following reports of damages to the former immigration office and minor damages to the Antara news agency building. Both were protected structures in Central Jakarta. (ind)