Mon, 16 Jun 2003

New garbage crisis seems unavoidable next year

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Although the Jakarta administration says it plans to stop using the Bantar Gebang dump by December, it has made no serious effort so far to arrange for the disposal of the 6,000 tons of garbage the city produces every day after the Bekasi dump's closure.

Officials here said the administration was prepared for the garbage problem next year after the end of the lease over the 104-hectare Bantar Gebang dump in Bekasi municipality. Bantar Gebang accommodates most of the 6,000 tons of garbage produced daily by Jakarta.

However, it appears to only been developing a dump in one location in Jakarta to replace Bantar Gebang, not three locations as it has been insisting so far.

The Jakarta Post recently visited the three locations -- Cilincing in North Jakarta, Duri Kosambi in West Jakarta and Bojong (not Jonggol as reported earlier) in Bogor, West Java -- to check on progress in the development of the new dumps.

But it turned out that construction is only underway at one location, Bojong, a village close to Jonggol.

Edi Kuswoyo, a site engineer for PT Wira Gulfindo Sarana in Bojong, said on Saturday that construction had started in January and was expected to finish by August.

The treatment facility will only be able to process some 1,500 tons of garbage per day, he said.

"The area is large enough to store compressed garbage rolls as we have some 40 hectares of land here, but the capacity of our treatment facility will be around 1,000 tons to 1,500 tons," Edi told the Post in Bojong.

Earlier last week, City Hall spokesman Ahyat M. Awe made a misleading statement by claiming that the construction of the three new dumps had been 80 percent completed.

But on Thursday, Irzal Djamal, assistant to the city secretary for development affairs, corrected Ahyat's statement and admitted that it applied solely to Jonggol, where the construction of a new garbage treatment with capacity of only 2,000 tons per day is underway.

The city administration, however, appears to be attempting to mislead the public once again as the Post found no construction work underway at Jonggol.

Even if the three new dumps at Cilincing, Duri Kosambi and Bojong were eventually to be up and running before December, they would still be unable to avert a new garbage crisis next year as they will only be capable of accommodating 3,500 tons out of the 6,000 tons of garbage produced daily.

This means that around 2,500 tons of garbage per day will not be capable of being treated next year if the Bantar Gebang dump is really shut down.

Meanwhile, a number of Bekasi councillors doubted that Governor Sutiyoso was serious about closing Bantar Gebang, saying they were convinced he was bluffing.

The councillors said Jakarta would not be able to deal with its garbage problem without Bantar Gebang.

Sutiyoso and Bekasi Mayor Nonon Sonthanie signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last year to extend the life of Bantar Gebang. Under the terms of the MoU, Jakarta must pay Rp 14 billion to the Bekasi administration in 2002 and Rp 8 billion this year. This money is supposed to be used on projects to benefit Bantar Gebang residents.

The MoU signing followed a one-week closure of the dump, starting on Dec. 10, 2001, by the Bekasi administration, which led to a garbage crisis in Jakarta with mountains of rubbish building up all over the city.