Fri, 14 Oct 1994

Traders demand damages

JAKARTA (JP): A group of traders from Rawasari Timur, Central Jakarta, went to the City Council yesterday to demand compensation for their houses which are to be demolished to make way for public facilities.

"We do not oppose the city administration's programs but please don't forget to give us compensation because we don't have money to rent houses," Mrs. Syaifulman, spokesperson of the delegation, told members of the City Council.

She explained that 30 traders have lived near the market for over 30 years. Recently they received an order to demolish their homes from the Cempaka Putih district because the site will be converted to a "green belt," including sidewalks, gutters and roads.

The order mentioned that the land on which the traders built their houses and shops belongs to the city administration and is earmarked for public purposes.

Mrs. Syaifulman said that the first order was given by the district head verbally, demanding that the traders demolish their houses within 10 days. The second warning dated Oct. 10 requested them to dismantle their houses in seven days, she said.

"We are just poor traders and we do not know where to go if our houses are demolished," Syaifulman said.

Mrs. Sitorus, another trader, said that they initially lived in the area as ordinary settlers before converting their houses in stages into shops in line with the increasing number of neighbors.

Both Mrs. Syaifulman and Mrs. Sitorus admitted that they lack building permits and never pay any land and building taxes.

"We did not know about the city's plan to use the site as a green belt until 1990 when the Rawa Kerbau market, adjacent to their residence, was built," Syaifulman said.

She explained that the authorities have actually provided them with kiosks on upper floors of the marketplace which are rarely visited by customers.

When confronted by members of the commission about the amount of compensation, the traders simply said that the government should pay a reasonable sum.

For comparison, they said seven of their neighbors whose houses were demolished last year received compensation ranging from Rp 1.5 million (US$688) to Rp 7 million depending on the width of their houses.

The members of City Council's Commission B which is in charge of government, security and order affairs promised to contact the authorities to delay the demolition order. (yns)