Fri, 14 Jan 2000

Residents support Taman Puring closure

JAKARTA (JP): Businesspeople, workers and residents near Taman Puring in South Jakarta expressed support for last week's closure of the park's flea market in a bid to ease traffic in the area.

However, they also criticized the city administration for being overly harsh in its action. They also expressed concern for the fate of the vendors at the park.

Djaelani, a security guard chief at Wisma Gandaria III office building located across from the park, said it was better that the site was used solely as a park.

"But the administration should be serious in handling the relocation of traders by providing a new place which is adequate for business. It is the administration's responsibility because it did nothing when the vendors started trading in the area," he said.

He said the vendors' presence had become a problem to others because sometimes they got drunk and fought each other.

"Though the incidents had no direct impact on us, people were afraid," he said.

His colleague Sudirman said the South Jakarta mayoralty did not act firmly and should have acted as soon as the number of vendors continued to increase.

"That's why it has been difficult to take action against them after their number became so large," he said.

Vendors started to flock to Taman Puring when then South Jakarta mayor Pardjoko announced he would allow traders to operate on the site, known as Pasar Sabtu Minggu or Pasar Tunggu in reference to the flea market's operational days of Saturday and Monday, to help them cope with the economic crisis.

But their number continuously increased until the whole park was occupied with stalls, especially when the Idul Fitri holiday approached.

Public bus driver Udin said he hoped traffic in the area would become smoother after the park was free of vendors.

"I pass the area many times every day and there is always heavy traffic because too many people park their vehicles irregularly and public transportation drops off and picks up passengers all over the place," said Udin, who plies the Tanah Abang-Ciputat bus route.

However, he opposed the way the administration demolished the kiosks.

"The administration's officials have showed brutality by demolishing the kiosks. They could have acted more humanely by just closing the area and letting the owners take away their belongings," he said.

Owner of a computer service shop Andrianto, who supported the closure, said the flea market had become a place for people to trade stolen goods.

"Shop owners often found their lost merchandise at the market," he said.

However, housewife Suratin and student Gordon regretted the flea market closure, saying they enjoyed shopping there.

Suratin said she liked how she could find good quality shoes at reasonable prices.

"I have three children for whom I have to buy new shoes for every Idul Fitri holiday or for school," said the woman who lives in the nearby Cipulir area.

A similar sentiment was voiced by Gordon, who said the flea market had become a place where he could sell his belongings every time he needed money and where he could also buy cheap goods.

"I even sold my wristwatch here when I badly need money to pay my school fees," said the student of Gunadarma University in South Jakarta.

Separately, City Council speaker Edy Waluyo said the council supported the city administration's closure of the market and urged it to continue its public order operations.

"The City Council supports operations to uphold public order conducted by the city administration, as we must recognize the supremacy of the law," he said during a meeting with South Jakarta authorities to discuss last Saturday's closure of the flea market in Taman Puring.

Edy said the mayoralty was only doing its duty by closing the flea market, as the policy had been decided by the city administration.

"We will also ask the city administration to give detailed information on its public order policy," he added. (ind/05)