Mon, 27 Aug 2001

Street tailors offer cheap, speedy services

By Multa Fidrus

JAKARTA (JP): If you have just bought a brand new dress or shirt, only to find that it is a bit too long or too tight, don't worry -- you can have it fixed within minutes at a very low price if you take it to the Prumpung area in Jatinegara, East Jakarta.

Of course, that is only if you don't mind braving the heat and the vehicle pollution.

As the city administration has not yet provided a permanent site to accommodate them, some 50 tailors are scattered around an area stretching from the Jatinegara railway station to the Prumpung flyover. Some tailors occupy the sidewalk, some the park, while others even run their business on sections of the road.

This situation not only looks bad, but also exposes both the tailors and their customers to the thick black smoke of passing vehicles.

Idol Parwita, 43, one of the street tailors working on the road told The Jakarta Post he has to commute from Bogor to the site every day and serves his customers with a very old sewing machine.

He admitted that the location was hazardous to his health and safety.

"If the city administration built a location dedicated to accommodating street tailors around this area, we would not be spread out like this," he said.

Idol worked for several textile manufactures in the capital before resigning in the early 1970s to become a tailor.

He has run his business in the same spot since he became a street tailor in 1974.

He related how, in the 1980s, public order officers frequently conducted raids, causing him to lose two sewing machines, which were never returned.

"Thank God, the city's public order officers no longer raid street tailors and confiscate our sewing machines," he said.

Idol is quite happy being a street tailor. Earning between Rp 30,000 and Rp 50,000 a day, he is able to meet his family's needs, including sending his three children to school. In the third week of the fasting month of Ramadhan, when the Idul Fitri holiday draws near, his daily income can double to as much as Rp 100,000.

"I can no longer do other kinds of work as I am getting older. I have decided to stick to this job until the end of my life because this job is relaxing," he said.

He said that a street tailor usually charges a customer Rp 3,000 for shortening a pair of trousers, Rp 5,000 for tightening or loosening and Rp 10,000 for more complicated work.

Another street tailor, Zamhuri, 36, a resident in Cipinang Besar Utara, starts working at 8 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m..

He said his customers come from as far away as Bekasi, Ciputat, Depok and Bogor. On average, he earns Rp 30,000 a day.

He frequently receives orders from hotels in the Jatinegara area to make curtains, bed covers, pillow slips and other items.

Meanwhile, Mustanto, 19, a resident of Pasar Ciplak in East Jakarta, who had Idol mend his denim jeans, said he visited the area upon the recommendation of a friend who was satisfied with the quality of work.

"That's why I wanted to try here. In addition to the cheap price, I can wait until my jeans are finished," he said.

Similarly, Acih, 53, a resident of Kelapa Gading, East Jakarta, who was waiting for Zamhuri to complete his bed covers and pillow slips, said he had enjoyed the service of street tailors since the early 1980s.

He said he was reluctant to go to "formal" tailors.

"Street tailors offer much quicker service and cheaper rates than formal tailors," said the father of four children who runs a motorcycle repair shop in Rawamangun, East Jakarta.