Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Sutiyoso confident Bekasi dump will remain open

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Fears that Bekasi will soon close its doors to the garbage of millions of Jakartans were played down on Wednesday when Governor Sutiyoso said he had the word of the Bekasi mayor that the city's dump would remain open for another year.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Sanitation Agency was tightlipped about the prospect of a waste crisis early next year.

There is still no signed agreement to extend the contract between Bekasi and Jakarta on the use of the Bantar Gebang dump, which expires at the end of this month.

But Sutiyoso said, "I have the word of the Bekasi mayor as the top leader (in the municipality). Therefore, I do not foresee any problems (with the extension of the contract)."

The governor only said that further discussions on compensation for Bekasi were needed before an agreement could be signed.

The dump was briefly closed in 2001 because of Bekasi's anger over pollution. Jakarta, however, paid Bekasi Rp 22 billion (US$2.59 million) in compensation and was allowed to continue its use of Bantar Gebang in 2002. Jakarta has used the dump since 1986.

Earlier, the Bekasi municipality under mayor Achmad Zulfaih said it would not extend Jakarta's contract to use the dump. Sutiyoso also said Jakarta could handle the 6,000 tons of garbage produced daily in the capital.

In June this year, Sutiyoso said the city would no longer use the 104-hectare Bantar Gebang dump, claiming his administration had prepared three separate locations for waste treatment facilities.

However, only one waste treatment facility in Bojong, Bogor, with a capacity of about 1,500 tons per day, will be ready by January. Residents, however, oppose the presence of a dump in the area.

Two other facilities in Duri Kosambi, West Jakarta, and on Jl. Cakung Cilincing in East Jakarta will be ready by June 2004.

Meanwhile, Bekasi Deputy Mayor Mochtar Muhammad said it was unlikely the mayor had guaranteed Jakarta the continued use of Bantar Gebang.

"We will not talk about garbage with the Jakarta administration. We will only negotiate if there is a guarantee from the central government that Jakarta will comply with its commitments," he said.

He said Jakarta had failed to regreen Bantar Gebang as stated in a renewed agreement signed in early 2002. The agreement also said Jakarta would build a water pipeline to avoid water pollution in surrounding villages.

An official at the Jakarta administration, however, expressed confidence that Bekasi would extend the agreement because "it's only a matter of money" for officials and legislators.

Water and air pollution have been the main complaints arising from the use of the Bantar Gebang dump. Analysts have blamed the pollution on the improper implementation of the sanitary landfill system.

A more environmentally friendly system is planned for the future Bojong waste treatment facility in Bogor regency, using bale press technology.