Fri, 22 Aug 2003

'I stay up all night to wait for water'

The water shortage in the capital -- due to the prolonged dry season and the drought in Java -- has forced some Jakartans to buy the water that they had previously been able to get from the tap. The situation is a burden on people who are already struggling to provide for their families. The worst part of it is that many have consigned themselves to the hardship, believing that they can expect nothing better from life in Jakarta. They share their circumstances with The Jakarta Post.

Hasyim, 40, is a street performer on Jl. Gajah Mada, West Jakarta. He lives in Luar Batang, North Jakarta, with his wife and four children:

The problem of water shortages in Jakarta is really distressing.

I rely on tap water and the supply has severely decreased. Sometimes it is totally cut.

Recently, the water only started running at 11 p.m. I had to stay up the whole night, exhausted and waiting for my household reservoir to get full.

You know, If I just went to sleep it would be a total disaster for my family. What could we do? Wait until the next night to wash and cook?

Actually, this has happened and I purchased water from my neighbors for around Rp 300 (3.6 U.S. cents) per jerrycan of 20 liters.

With six members in the family, each of us needs a full jerrycan for bathing only. That's Rp 3,600 per day, not to mention the extra water for washing and cooking.

Now I have to cut the water pipes to increase the water pressure. Otherwise, the water will not flow strong enough to fill my reservoir.

It's really horrible to cope with this type of problem. But I'm living in Jakarta where everything's hard, right?

Son, 25, is a sidewalk vendor in Mangga Dua, Central Jakarta. He lives in Jl. Tongkol, North Jakarta with his fellow vendors:

Lack of water is part of my daily routine. There is no tap water at my rented house.

We have to buy clean water from vendors for drinking and queue for water at the public artesian well for washing.

If I'm too tired to get water from the well I have to spend Rp 1,000 for bathing per day and an extra of Rp 500 for washing.

That might not be much money for some people, but I pay Rp 100,000 rent monthly for my house, and I can barely afford that.

Sometimes I wonder why we have reached the condition in Jakarta where we can't even go to toilet without paying for the privilege. Is that what life amounts to?

But let's face it, Jakarta isn't exactly fun for people with no money.

Barat, 27, is a public minivan driver plying Kota to Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta. He lives in Pademangan, North Jakarta, with his relatives:

My brother always complains to me about the poor water supply. We only use tap water to fulfill our daily needs.

With such unbearable conditions, I prefer to sleep at the headquarters with my fellow drivers than return home.

If I'm staying at home I have to wake up early in the morning, at around 4 a.m., to turn on the tap.

The tap water only runs properly before dawn.

You wouldn't believe how tiring and stressful it is to wait for water. What am I going to do if the supply is cut? I am going to have to buy water from door-to-door vendors. My family needs water, so does every family.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.