Tue, 26 Aug 2003

President opens apartments for low-income residents

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri officially opened on Monday the 1,100-unit Cinta Kasih low-cost apartment complex, donated by the Taiwan-based Buddha Tzu Chi foundation, in East Cengkareng, West Jakarta.

The foundation spent Rp 58 billion (US$6.9 million) on construction of the complex, which has been allocated to people on low incomes.

Governor Sutiyoso, who accompanied Megawati, said the apartments were part of the administration's plan to reallocate residents squatting in locations such as riverbanks, green areas and land owned by state and private companies.

"We hope that the central government will take part in building low-cost apartments as the development of multistory buildings for housing is the only choice in many large cities, including Jakarta," Sutiyoso said.

Starting last year, the city administration planned to build some 30,000 low-cost apartments in the city to provide permanent accommodation for people living in urban areas.

In 2002, some 3,000 apartment units were built, and the city has set itself a target of another 3,000 units this year. However, many of the apartments were subsequently occupied by people who were wealthier than the occupants for whom they were originally intended, as the apartments were in desirable locations.

The five-story Cinta Kasih apartment has a variety of facilities, including buildings to house elementary and junior high schools, a nursery, shop kiosks, medical center and housing for teaching staff and apartment management employees.

Every apartment in the building has a family room, master bedroom, children's bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, plus a small area for clothes washing.

All 1,100 apartments are furnished with a wooden bed, bunk- bed, wardrobes in each bedroom and a plastic dinner table with six chairs.

Apartment property manager Rahman said that in the near future a three-story market would be built in order to provide trading opportunities for the new residents.

The foundation also promised to establish an underwear production unit to provide employment for housewives with sewing skills.

Residents must pay a monthly rental of Rp 90,000, plus extra for water and electricity usage.

Rahman said that the fee was to cover the costs of providing garbage collection, security services, green spaces and the accommodation itself.

He added that the complex cost the foundation Rp 240 million per month, while the fees collected from residents would total only Rp 90 million.

The remaining 620 apartments are being prepared for occupation by riverbank squatters, especially those who live along the Angke River, who are due for eviction soon.

Residents already in occupation had previously been evicted from the Angke riverbanks.

Thousands of other people evicted from slum areas have not been fortunate enough to be offered such accommodation.