Fri, 05 Dec 2003

East Jakarta delays Pulomas reservoir eviction

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The owners of hundreds of shanty homes near a reservoir in East Jakarta have been given until Sunday or Monday to dismantle their homes before city officials tear them down.

Residents meanwhile voiced disillusion with their favorite political party in a situation becoming all too familiar across the city.

The East Jakarta municipality delayed the planned demolition of about 400 houses around Pulomas reservoir in Kayuputih district, as only about 160 homes had been dismantled on Thursday.

"If by Sunday or Monday the houses have not been dismantled, we will demolish them ourselves," Yusmin D., the head of city infrastructure at East Jakarta's Public Order Agency, said Thursday on the site.

The municipality has planned to clear the area since October, claiming that it wanted to clean it to ease flooding. However, the residents around Pulomas reservoir, also called Ria-rio reservoir, resisted and rejected the offer of compensation.

The neighborhood includes vendors, bus drivers, housewives, sex workers and the notorious Kapak Merah (Red Axe) robbery gang that targets motorists. Scores of residents support the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan).

On Thursday, while residents dismantled their homes, children and housewives walked to and fro carrying planks, television sets and mattresses. Several red PDI Perjuangan flags were fluttering in the breeze, but some residents said they would likely not vote in the next elections.

"I will be a golput (nonvoter)," said one resident, who identified himself only as Silalahi. "We were the people who made it possible for PDI Perjuangan to win in this area in the last elections. But now that we are being evicted, we ask what the party has done for us? Nothing."

Residents said that previously a number of party members approached them and told them not to give up their homes easily. Saying they sensed that the party supported them, the residents staunchly resisted the eviction.

However, at the time of eviction the above party members were nowhere to be seen. Residents living on the banks of the reservoir later accepted Rp 300,000 (US$35) in compensation for each house, and dismantled their homes.

However, owners of about 200 houses across the bank looked shocked on Thursday when they heard from officials that their homes would also be targeted this week.

"I thought the land across the bank belonged to the Adam Malik Foundation, and that we would therefore not be evicted unless the foundation told us to go," said Edi WS, referring to a foundation set up by the family of a late vice president.

However, the municipality claims the land belongs to the city, and the above official Yusmin said all illegal buildings built within 30 meters of the reservoir's banks will be demolished.