Wed, 25 Sep 2002

Residents concerned about fire safety

Fires have recently swept through a number of densely populated areas in Jakarta. These incidents have left thousands of people homeless, and have sparked debate about fire safety in the city.

Supriman, 24, a fried-snack vendor in Grogol, West Jakarta. He is from Sukoharjo, Central Jakarta, and now resides in Tanjung Duren, West Jakarta:

I wonder why most people who live in the city are careless. They tend to do things without considering the possible consequences.

This happens in the subdistrict where I live here. My neighbors steal power from the network of state-owned electricity company PLN.

I guess this uncontrolled distribution of illegal electricity increases the risk of short-circuits, which cause the fires.

We can see many instances of this in Greater Jakarta, mainly among those who live in densely populated areas.

The government should live up to its responsibilities and regularly checking the electric power network. They aren't doing anything to prevent the alarming number of fires in the city, despite the fact that they are paid to do their jobs properly.

Ade, an employee at a private company in West Jakarta. He lives in Mampang, South Jakarta, with his family. He used to work in Pulo Gadung, East Jakarta:

I heard from the residents of a housing complex in Pulo Gadung that fires in the housing complex were set on purpose. Someone started the fires to raze a location.

I don't think it's normal for the same housing complex to experience four fires in a year.

Perhaps it was because the residents lived on land that was being disputed by the rightful owners and illegal dwellers.

I guess many cases in the city are the result of arson, to drive away illegal residents.

It seems that the government hasn't done anything to stop these fires. They even ask fire victims to pay for the cost of the firefighters called to put out the blaze.

It sounds very ridiculous, doesn't it?

Matfarian, 50, a chicken noodle vendor in West Jakarta. He lives on Jl. Satria in West Jakarta with his wife, their son and a granddaughter. He moved to the city 25 years ago from Mojokerto, East Java:

I wonder why residents in the city today tend to pursue pleasure without considering the effects.

Many of my neighbors, who live in a slum area, illegally connect their houses to PLN's electricity network. I wonder why they forget the conditions. Most of us live in densely populated areas and our houses are made of plywood and other flammable materials.

The poor sanitary conditions in the area attract rats. These animals are fond of chewing on cables, which could cause a short- circuit and fire.

I think the careless attitude of most slum residents is to blame for the numerous blazes in the city.

Worse still, the government is busy with its own business and disregards low-income people who live in the slums. The government does not want to go down and see how the poor are really living.

It's no surprise that the government is not very concerned by the fires, as they never side with the poor.

Norman, not his real name, a civil servant with the City Transportation Agency, who comes from Sumatra and lives in Kampung Melayu, Tangerang, with his wife:

Being caught in fire is a human tragedy. It goes beyond the ability of man to stop this from happening.

As a person, all I can do is feel pity and apologize to fire victims in the city.

I cannot comment on why these fires occurred.

The government, I think, has tried hard to tackle the problem of fires during the dry season. They have done quite well.

-- Leo Wahyudi S