Mon, 14 Jul 2003

`Fire is one of the risks of living in Jakarta'

Fires in residential neighborhoods have become a major problem in the city. The fires in many parts of the city, including markets and kiosks in Manggarai, South Jakarta, Kebayoran Lama in South Jakarta and in Klender, East Jakarta have seemingly increased in frequency in recent years. Short circuits are most often blamed. The Jakarta Post asked some city residents about their level of preparedness and/or fear of fire in their homes.

Andra, 32, lives with her family in a nearby traditional market in Kampung Ambon, East Jakarta:

I always wonder why these blazes remain an unresolved problem in the city. The number of fires in the city, has sparked questions among the other city residents like me.

Electrical short circuits usually seem to be the cause that authorities point to, but I don't believe that for one minute.

To make matters worse, the city administration never seems prepared, nor do they do much to prevent more fires from occurring.

I think everyone wonders why these fires always seem to happen to unwanted -- by the city officials -- kiosks or markets or over-populated slums.

In addition, the absence of monitoring by state-run electricity company PLN also deserves some blame. They should do better monitoring of city residents who violate the regulations dealing with electricity installation.

However, I think that a lot of city residents are just careless and ignorant about the possible impact of wiring up their homes or kiosks in an unsafe manner.

As a matter of fact, I'm sick of the situation. I personally worry about my home because I live in a densely populated neighborhood, which I'm sure is a fire hazard.

So, who should be held responsible? The problems have gotten even more complicated now because there are so many different agencies involved and none seem to be thinking seriously about the situation.

Novi, 22, is a university graduate who is looking for a job. She lives in Ciledug, Tangerang:

I think the fires happen in many places in the city due to a sort of intentional human error.

After hearing about the series of blazes in the city, I think that the causes are not simply coincidental.

If they're just accidents, why do traditional markets or kiosks or dense housing complexes usually become the targets? It makes me a bit suspicious.

It's very questionable. Why do almost all these accidents happen in relatively poorer areas?

I'm not sure about the motives behind it if they are done on purpose, but certain groups, I'm sure, must benefit in some way.

I'm wary when I hear all these alleged short circuits are the cause. I would believe it if it happened accidentally.

Well, in a way I also admit that people's recklessness can also become the cause.

Their undisciplined and indifferent attitudes actually play a major role in the fires, if I may say.

Agus, 30, is an unemployed resident in Citra Raya, Banten. He has just come to the city seeking work, from his hometown near Yogyakarta:

I'm a bit surprised when I hear about all these fires in Jakarta. It hardly ever happens where I come from.

'Tis curious, indeed, that these devastating infernos nearly always victimize the masses who live in slums or ply their trade at crowded traditional markets.

Perhaps the over-populated situation in this metropolis is a contributing factor.

Probably most of the residents are too careless when they make electricity connections, usually illegal, in their houses.

They don't seem to concern themselves with the fact that they live among many neighbors and are thus endangering everyone around them.

I guess human error, including ignorant attitudes, has contributed to the worsening of the situation.

However, honestly speaking I don't really care about the matter. It's just another possible risk of living in Jakarta. That's what I think now.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.