Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Governor urged to panish PD Pasar Jaya

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

City councillors asked Governor Sutiyoso on Monday to punish the management of city-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya for its negligence which "had contributed" to the fire of the country's largest textile market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, last Wednesday.

"The governor should dismiss PD Pasar Jaya president Syahril Tanjung because the building management is very poor," councillor Ugiek Sugihardjo of the council's commission B for economic affairs, told reporters.

Ugiek of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) blamed part of the problem on weak fire safety and a lack of fire hydrants, fire extinguishers and water pumps, none of which could be used effectively to put out the fire which erupted last Wednesday. He accused PD Pasar Jaya for failing to maintain the equipment.

Councillor Agus Dermawan of the National Mandate Party (PAN) supported Ugiek's statement, saying that if the fire equipment could not be used, PD Pasar Jaya should have decided the market was not safe, until it made the necessary changes.

"It (the fire equipment) should be regularly checked and Pasar Jaya should have declared whether the market was safe or not," Agus, who also sits on the council's commission B, told reporters.

The councillors also were upset with the management of PD Pasar Jaya for their "irresponsible behavior" after the fire, in which they claimed it was a just a normal accident.

One day after the fire broke out, Syahril rejected demands that his company take full responsibility for the fire, saying that it was a merely natural disaster.

In addition to the angry councillors, the public and several lawyers, including those from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute also were disappointed by Syahril's statement, and added that they would represent the fire victims if the latter chose to sue the market firm for its negligence that caused the fire.

Council commission B would grill Syahril Tanjung and officials from the City Planning Agency in a hearing on Tuesday on the fire incident which caused hundreds of billions of rupiah in losses.

However, the councillors doubted on Monday that the governor would punish Syahril Tanjung. Sutiyoso earlier called on the public not to blame the market management.

It has been widely suggested that Pasar Jaya is a "cash cow" for certain officials and councillors.

The councillors from certain political parties are known to have several kiosks in the city's markets, such as in Tanah Abang market, Glodok market in West Jakarta and Kenari market in Central Jakarta.

The kiosks are rented to businessmen and the rental fees have been used for the party's operational costs and private use, all in violation of city-owned business regulations.

Syahril revealed on Thursday that his firm's annual income reached Rp 100 billion a year and one-third of the income was from Tanah Abang market.

Councillor Agus Dermawan questioned the income of PD Pasar Jaya since the latter only contributed Rp 3 billion to the 2002 city budget.

"Where did the money go? I wonder why Syahril is so difficult to replace?" Agus queried.