Jakarta prepares to move squatters to allow for flood-prevention work
Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Jakarta | Fri, January 25 2013, 8:11 AM
The Jakarta administration is shifting gear in its efforts to mitigate the capital’s perpetual flooding problem.
Efforts include the relocation of squatters from riverbanks and embankment areas as part of the city’s massive dredging project.
In a meeting with five mayors, 26 district and 75 subdistrict administration heads, Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday asked for assessments of each area, as well as requiring his subordinates to point out the challenges involved in relocating the squatters.
“We have to work fast. I call on all the authorities to use a softly-softly approach when relocating citizens [from riverbanks and embankment areas],” Jokowi said during the meeting at City Hall.
“We should do it nicely: using dialogue to explain to them that living on the riverbanks is a violation of the bylaws, and so on.”
The governor added that he would lend a hand to his subordinates if the suggestive approach did not work.
“If it becomes too burdensome, let me know. If I have to see it to myself, I’ll go,” he said.
“We need to start disseminating information about the relocation so we can start moving them in April or May. We have lots of things to prepare,” he added.
The urge to work fast was supported by the subordinates, who agreed that it was high time to carry out the plan.
“This is the perfect moment to start informing the residents affected by the floods about the relocation,” East Jakarta mayor HR Krisdianto said.
“They are traumatized by the floods so it is likely that they will easily accept the idea of relocating.”
He added that “we can start disseminating the plan as early as February.”
Jokowi has announced the administration’s plan to normalize 13 rivers running through the city, as well as dredging all dams and lakes in the capital after most areas of the capital were inundated by floodwaters last week.
This year, the administration will focus on the first four rivers: Ciliwung, Pesanggrahan, Angke and Sunter.
Tens of thousands of squatters are currently living along the riverbanks and nearby embankments illegally, causing a narrowing of the rivers and sedimentation due to careless lifestyles.
Jokowi cited the 80-hectare Pluit Dam in North Jakarta as an example, where at least 11,000 squatters have settled.
The depth of the dam — the biggest dam in Jakarta — is now only 3 meters, down from its initial depth of 10 meters.
Earlier this week Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama visited squatters from Pluit Dam in their temporary shelters, persuading them to relocate to the Marunda affordable apartments that could accommodate 400 families.
He promised that the squatters would not have to bring anything as the units were all fully furbished.
Jakarta Public Works Agency deputy head Novrizal said during the meeting that 31 families were ready to relocate to the apartments.
Jakarta’s recent flooding has caused an estimated Rp 20 trillion (US$2 billion) in losses, according to Jokowi.