Tue, 13 Jun 2000

National census moves at a snail's pace in capital

JAKARTA (JP): As the month-long national census entered its 12th day on Monday, a census official suggested it possible that data on only 20 percent of the city's residents had been collected.

Head of the population division of the city office of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) Rusmandesiar said that some census officials had encountered difficulties in carrying out their duties, while others had resigned or simply abandoned their jobs.

He said, however, that it was understandable to find that only a small percentage of the population had been surveyed because not all city residents were willing to be interviewed.

"We have received reports that census officials have complained that people, especially those from the middle and high classes, have proved difficult -- some even reluctant -- to be counted as they were often not at home when the officials called.

"The small percentage is also because census officials are not yet used to their tasks," he said.

Rusmandesiar said he was optimistic that all city residents would be counted by June 30, the final day of the census.

He called on the people to support the census and urged those who had not yet been counted to report to the BPS.

The slow progress can be seen from the fact that few buildings have stickers showing that their tenants have been counted.

This year's census is the fifth conducted in the country since its independence in 1945. Prior censuses were held in 1961, 1971, 1980 and 1990.

Guidelines for city census officials stipulate that the city is divided into 20,000 census blocks, each containing 80 to 120 families.

There are a total of 12,065 census officials deployed in the city, each receiving Rp 2,250 (26 U.S. cents) for each family he or she counts.

The city has received Rp 4.7 billion from the state budget and Rp 5.4 billion from the city budget for a supplementary question in the questionnaire on respondents' economic status.

Interviewed separately, a number of census officials and subdistrict officials said several census officials had resigned while others had not been performing their duties.

Other census officials complained of a lack of coordination with their superiors, saying they found them unreachable if they had difficulties performing their duties.

Suwardi, RW 03 neighborhood chief in Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta, said the census in his area was not running well as some officials were neglecting their duties.

"For instance, a bundle of census materials have been abandoned by a female official at my house. I don't know where she is now as she is not from the neighborhood.

"BPS officials said that census officials would cover their respective neighborhoods as they know them than others. But it is not always like that," he said.

He said that several neighborhood units in his area had no census officials up to present.

"Three out of 14 neighborhood units here have no census officials," he said.

M. Toyib, supervisor for census officials in Kebon Sirih, said a big problem was that census officials came from as far away as Ciputat in South Jakarta and were not familiar with the Kebon Sirih area.

"Probably because of their minimum knowledge, some officials have resigned from their duties. At present there are only 14 active officials out of a total 21 registered," he said.

Toyib admitted that he had yet to check the work of census officials under his supervision.

The lack of coordination was also mentioned by Aditia, a census official from Kali Pasir in Central Jakarta.

"I was given the census materials and no BPS officials have contacted me since," he said.

He said he did not have enough knowledge on conducting the census, although he underwent three days of training last March.

"For instance, the map of our census area is unclear. It just shows blocks bordered with the names of the streets," he said.

Aditia also complained that they had not been informed about the payment for the job.

"I once asked a BPS official. But he just said that there would be some but he did not know how much," he said.

Another census official from Balimester, East Jakarta, who refused to be named, shared Aditia's opinion, saying that he was working like a volunteer.

"I must pay for my transportation fees, my food and sometimes equipment like knifes and pens myself," he said.

Balimester census supervisor Fatonah said her workers had not received the clothing, like caps, jackets and arm bands, which had been promised to them.

Commenting on such complaints, Rusmandesiar said census officials had not been informed of payment.

"We had not received confirmation about wages we would receive from the state budget when the training session was held last March," he said.

He also said that he had yet to receive reports on officials resigning.

"The current number of census officials is, indeed, less than at the beginning. There were 13,098 participants at the training session, but there are now 12,065 remaining," he said. (ind)