Mon, 26 May 2003

Fate of Senayan vendors remains up in the air

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Street vendors and cafe owners in the eastern parking area of the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, expressed relief that a plan to remove them had been delayed, but they remain confused about their future.

Edi, a sate padang (skewered meat with curry sauce) vendor, said on Sunday the sports complex management had yet to make clear its new policy.

"We haven't heard anything from the management about our presence here. Will there be a deadline to move out of here for good or to a new location in the complex?" he told The Jakarta Post.

The sports complex management had ordered the vendors and cafe owners to leave, a favorite weekend destination for Jakartans, because it planned to develop the area.

The management had planned to clear the area of vendors during a three-day operation from Friday to Sunday. On Thursday, however, the vendors and cafe owners held a rally at the City Council building, demanding a transparent policy and a chance to earn a living.

Yohanes Rahawadan, one of the cafe owners, said the councillors had asked the sports complex management and the Central Jakarta mayor to delay the evictions. Rahawadan's wife Martha Kase, who is a former national athlete, coordinated the rally on Thursday.

Governor Sutiyoso told reporters that he knew nothing about the planned evictions.

Sutiyoso has said that Senayan stadium, which is managed by the central government, should be handed over to the city administration following the implementation of regional autonomy.

Vendors at the sports complex also questioned the management's policy of collecting between Rp 2,000 (23 US cents) and Rp 5,000 daily from the vendors, and the Rp 420,000 monthly fee charged to the owners of 17 cafes located across from the Hilton apartments.

The management has said that the location currently occupied by the cafes would be converted into a greenbelt.

"We were allowed to open our businesses here and we pay the fees, although we don't know where the money goes because there is no security or sanitation provided. The management should have spoken with us before coming up with a plan to evict us.

"We agree with the plan to establish a park here, but we just need a guarantee that we will be allowed to stay in business," Rahawadan told the Post.

However, some people believe the plan to shut down the cafes came about because many of the cafe owners broke an agreement not to sell alcoholic drinks.

Rahawadan admitted that his cafe sold alcohol, "but only to prominent guests of the cafe". He claimed that he stopped selling alcohol soon after the management distributed a circular on the planned evictions.

He said at least seven other cafes also sold alcohol. "We are now establishing an association, so should there be another breach of the agreement with the management we ourselves would take action against the guilty party," he said.

Next to his cafe, a group of people were standing beside their cars drinking, while cafe workers pulled beers out of an ice chest and poured them into plastic bags.