Wed, 09 Jul 2003

Selapanjang residents plan to demonstrate at airport

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Villagers from Selapanjang in Tangerang have threatened to stage a protest at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The residents have been demanding compensation since they were evicted from their land due to the airport's expansion project which began last year. The project was operated by PT Angkasa Pura II.

"We have been patient so far. We'll stage a demonstration at the PT Angkasa Pura II head office (at the airport)," local community leader, Suwadi, said on Tuesday, adding that the deadline is the end of this month.

If the villagers go ahead with the rally it could cause major disruption and flight delays as a result of traffic jams.

Last month a group of ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers demonstrated at the airport because PT Angkasa Pura II was preventing motorcyclists from entering the airport. The rally caused airport employees and flight crew to arrive at work late and flight schedules were thrown into disarray.

The assistant for administrative affairs to Tangerang's mayor, Affandi Permana, confirmed on Tuesday that the 400 residents or 80 families involved had yet to receive compensation for their land.

"We can understand their impatience as they have waited a long time for compensation," Permana, who is a member of the Team of Nine responsible for clearing the land, told The Jakarta Post.

He said that the mayoralty and the airport operator had allocated funds for the residents but that approval by the State Minister for State Enterprises, Laksamana Sukardi, was needed before the funds were distributed.

Permana said Laksamana hadn't approved compensation for the villagers due to his busy schedule and included Laksamana's recent overseas trips accompanying President Megawati Soekarnoputri as part of that busy schedule.

PT Angkasa Pura II spokesman Wasfan claimed that the disbursement of compensation for the 80 families had started last month but he failed to disclose the amount of the compensation or the number of families who had benefited from it.

The company had reportedly offered the residents compensation of Rp 150,000 (US$18.3) per square meter for their land.

Dozens of families in Kresek Asin and Jati Jengkol villages in Tangerang are also waiting to receive compensation for land they lost due to the airport's expansion.

PT Angkasa Pura II and Tangerang's mayoralty appropriated 1,600 hectares of land belonging to residents living around the airport.

The airport operator plans to expand the airport from 1,800 hectares to 3,400 hectares, developing the extension of terminals III and VI. The expansion to the airport would allow for the accommodation of up to 100 million passengers annually by 2020.