Sat, 27 Dec 2003

Waste begins to pile up before Bantar Gebang closure date

P.C. Naommy, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Five days prior to the end of the contract to use Bantar Gebang dump in Bekasi municipality, garbage has started to pile up at temporary sites across the capital.

"The garbage has not been taken for about three or four days," said Surati, a street vendor along the street near the temporary dump site in Palmerah Market, Central Jakarta.

The vendors said that they were still being required to pay Rp 1,000 (12 U.S. cents) for the sanitation cost each day. However, the garbage has not been picked up by the garbage trucks.

Some garbage truck drivers told The Jakarta Post on Friday that they had no idea where to take the garbage when Bantar Gebang closes its doors on Dec. 31, and others said their trucks had broken down.

"I heard from other drivers that we might send the garbage to a dump site somewhere in Jonggol, in Bogor regency. But I also heard that the people there have opposed the plan," said Lempai, a driver working for PT Daud Yonathan Bersaudara.

Other drivers, operating at the chicken market in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, and at Bata Putih market in Central Jakarta, were similarly confused. They said they were helpless until they got further instructions from their superiors.

"I only know that we still have to take the garbage to Bantar Gebang until the end of December," said Suyono, 51, who has worked with the City Sanitation Agency for seven years.

Residents are already facing a waste crisis after Bekasi municipality administration refused to extend its contract with Jakarta administration on the use of Bantar Gebang, pointing out that the dump site has damaged the environment and endangered the people's health.

Jakarta administration has named three alternative dump sites one in Duri Kosambi in West Jakarta, another at Jl. Cakung Cilincing in North Jakarta and in Jonggol district, Bogor regency, but only Jonggol is currently ready to operate.

Bogor regency administration approved the dump at a 20-hectare plot of land in Jonggol. However, the dump will only be able to accommodate 1,500 of the 6,000 tons of Jakarta's daily waste.

The dump site is located near the upmarket Citra Indah housing estate in Bojong subdistrict, Jonggol. Hundreds of local residents have strongly opposed the dump, apparently over fears of health and environmental problems like Bantar Gebang has experienced.

The strong opposition has resulted in several clashes with the authorities, including the latest incident on Monday in which three people were injured when they tried to stop trucks from entering the dump.

An employee of the waste management division at the sanitation agency's office in South Jakarta, Ridwan, said, "I haven't heard about a contingency plan. Anyway, I can't do anything until I get instructions from my superiors."

Head of Waste Management for the sanitation agency in Bogor, Rifki Tandjung, confirmed the approval of the Jonggol site.

"We already have the permits," said Rifki, adding that they would use German processing machines that would minimize environmental damage.

The three machines are owned by PT Wira Gulfindo Sarana, which has been appointed by Jakarta to manage the waste.