Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Planet Senen Youth Center will be relocated: Mayor

JAKARTA (JP): The Central Jakarta administration is planning to relocate the Planet Senen Youth Center in Senen to Kemayoran and construct a shopping center in its place, mayor Andi Subur Abdullah said on Wednesday.

"The area is good for business since it is located between the Senen railway station and the Senen bus terminal.

"However, the social environment here is no longer suitable for youth development," he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

"Our proposal has been approved by the City Council," the retired Army colonel said.

Senen is one of busiest shopping areas in the city. Besides, it has also become a first stop for migrants before they settle down in the capital as many of them who come to Jakarta by train, disembark at the Senen railway station.

The area is also crime-ridden. Burglaries, robberies and holdups are common occurrences.

Sophian Azpina, head of the youth center, said the area was no longer favorable as a place for youths to congregate.

"The crime rate here is getting higher. Therefore, the objective of the center to educate youths through positive activities is no longer achievable here," Sophian told Post at his office on Wednesday.

Along with the Bulungan Youth Center in Blok M, South Jakarta, the 18,000-square-meter Planet Senen Youth Center used to be a popular hangout for youths in the city.

Activities held at the center, which was opened in 1974, include sport, theater and art, and also social and political discussions.

Sophian conceded that the center appeared dirty and disorganized.

"Many street vendors, vagrants and the homeless stay in the building compound. Some of the floors of the building have fallen into ruin from neglect," he said.

The center's poor condition had been criticized by former mayor Abdul Kahfi.

"The premises have been abused. Street vendors operate here without permits, while many vagrants live there. The building has likely not been properly maintained," Kahfi, who is now deputy governor for government affairs, once said.

Sophian, however, said his office had no authority to evict the street vendors from the building compound.

"It's either the responsibility of the police or the city public order authority. Besides, if we force them out of this strategic place for business, they might resist," he said.

The Planet Senen Youth Center's Youth Union said they didn't object to the relocation, although they admitted the present location was very strategic.

"We agree with the planned relocation but the new place must provide better facilities to its users," he said, without going into details.

Meanwhile, mayor Andi said the administration was now seeking investors to construct a shopping center in its place.

"Once we get one (investor), the construction can begin in January," he said.

He said the administration preferred the project to be carried out through the Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) system.

"Through the system, the investor will be allowed to operate the building until a certain period of time before the it is returned to the administration," he said. (asa)