Mon, 17 Oct 1994

Guarantee of apartments for Benhil squatters is vital

JAKARTA (JP); A member of the House of Representatives (DPR) underlined the importance of guaranteeing squatters of Bendungan Hilir homes in the low cost apartments which the government plans to build.

Chairman of the Golkar faction, Ahmad Moestahid Astari, said over the weekend that the city administration has to establish something in writing giving the fire victims first priority in purchasing apartments.

Astari was quoted by the Antara news agency that the the guarantee is very important to prevent further physical incidents between the squatters and law enforcement officers

"The recent clash in Bendungan Hilir might not have happened had the city administration given them assurances," he said.

Law enforcement officers clashed with squatters on Tuesday as they moved in to demolish houses and shanties rebuilt on the former fire site in Bendungan Hilir, leaving 20 people injured.

The clash was the climax of the dispute that started after the 1.5 hectare slum area, which was crammed with houses, caught fire on Sept. 9.

The 465 families in the area were forbidden by the Central Jakarta mayoralty to rebuild their homes owing to plans to build a low cost apartment building on the site.

The city offered Rp 400,000 ($190) to each family to enable them to rent a house while awaiting the completion of the apartments.

The government also offered compensation of Rp 235,000 per square meter but the squatters, who have lived in the area for over 35 years, rejected it and demanded Rp 1 million.

Astari urged the city administration to publicize its land appropriation programs in a bid to inform the public and to invite them to cooperate.

He said that the city administration also has to explain about residents' rights, the schedule of the development and those responsible for it, as well as the date as to when they can register themselves to apply for an apartment.

Astari also expressed concern over the increasing number of land disputes in the capital, which mostly end up with people suffering losses.

Businessmen, land brokers and delinquent officials of the city administration no longer seem sensitive to people's hardships, he said, adding that all they think about is how to make big profits. (yns)