Waging a war against poverty is not easy; make the wrong move and you will find yourself fighting against poor instead.
As one of the biggest cities in Indonesia, for most citizens, Jakarta is an Ivory Tower. It’s a city of dreams that charms people to leave their hometowns. They leave in search of a better life, better income, better education, and better in everything. But not every dream turns into reality. While the city itself is a home to 10 million people, 3.75 percent of is citizen, or about 375,000 people, live below the poverty line.
Living as those who labelled as the poor is never easy. High cost living expenses, meager income, or no income at all, low education, poor access to many government facilities have pushed some people to a downward spiral. One bad decision can change their life significantly.
Research report from Jakarta Legal Aid Institute [LBH Jakarta] shows throughout last year there were 113 evictions in the city, affecting 8,145 families and 6,283 businesses.
This year, 325 neighborhoods are at risk of forced evictions. Some have had their houses demolished.
One forced eviction happened on March 1 this year to residents living under the Tomang-Pluit section of inner ring road toll. This eviction went almost unnoticed because public attention was focused on the most celebrated forced eviction this year the previous day on Feb. 29. That day, the administration demolished Kalijodo neighborhood home to the notorious, historical red-light-district as well as 1,340 families. Kalijodo is only across the river from the under-the-toll-road community.
Only 202 Kalijodo families were entitled to low-cost rental apartments [rusunawa] in Pulo Gebang, Marunda, and Rawa Bebek.
Unable to find new jobs while having to pay more expenses—transportation cost, rusunawa rents—some of the tenants returned to their illegal settlement eventually. The returnees from the rusunawa joined about 150 other families who built shacks under the toll road, on top of the debris of their own houses, after the March eviction.
They have lived there for years, some were born there. After March and February eviction the toll road community and former Kalijodo evictees lived in a deteriorated condition. They do odd jobs like occasional parking attendant or even scrape for recyclable garbage.
Jakarta administration has been trying to catch up with rusunawa backlog but finding lands in the middle of the city is not easy. Most cases, the evictees are thrown into rusunawa, designed without any participation of the evictees, more than 10 kilometers from their job, businesses, and schools. Some even get rusunawa 25 kilometers from home, making it difficult for them to get back on their feet, let alone uplift themselves from poverty.
Forced evictions have impoverished the most vulnerable community in the city and the city’s forgotten population just try to get by with whatever they can find.
JP/ Seto wardhana