Jakartans lament the sorry state of the capital’s rivers
Little Beatles: Students walk along a cross point of electrical cables over the Cideng River in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. A recent assessment by the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency revealed that none of Jakarta’s rivers are clean. JP/P.J. Leo
City residents have deplored the findings of a recent survey that concluded there is no clean water in Jakarta’s rivers.
The Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) reported that none of Jakarta’s rivers could be qualified as being in good condition. According to the BPLHD, 71 percent of the city’s river water is heavily polluted, 20 percent is partly polluted, and 9 percent is lightly polluted.
Ateng Muhammad Ganipia, 52, a motorcycle taxi driver, said he realized that the city’s filthy rivers were a reflection of the residents’ attitude toward and lack of awareness about the need to maintain the rivers.
Ateng described the East Flood Canal in South Jakarta during his childhood as “clean and deep”.
“I remember when my friends and I played and jumped into the river. We used to sing out an ‘anthem’ for the canal, reflecting the bond of the children with the river,” he said, and then sang the “anthem”.
Ateng is not the only person who wishes the city’s rivers were clean.
Endang Kustana, 56, a food stall owner in Cideng, Central Jakarta, said that he missed the days when the Cideng river was clean during his childhood.
“I remember that people washed their dishes in the water,” the native Jakartan said.
“I wish the river were clean,” he said, pointing to the Cideng river, which was grayish in color and saturated with floating plastic garbage.
Endang blamed people who threw garbage into the river.
“Many people live along the river. They throw garbage into the river recklessly and make the river so dirty,” he said.
The Jakarta administration launched a program to clean its 13 rivers in the late 1980s under the so-called Clean River Program.
However, the program ended in failure due to a combination of inconsistent law enforcement and lack of discipline of Jakartans, many of whom still consider the rivers as their dump sites.
A person who makes his living cleaning the Cideng river also deplored the filthy state of the capital’s waterways.
Edi, 51, said he loved clean rivers. “When the river is clean, it is nice to look at. Besides, the people along the river will be healthier and feel comfortable about living there,” said the man, who comes from Balaraja in Tangerang.
Edi, who works from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday said that he wished he could make the river clean. “It is not an easy job, I have skin diseases on my legs [due to the job]. I hope my efforts to clean the river help,” he said.
The BPLHD plans to launch a campaign called “My River, My Front Yard” to encourage residents to stop throwing trash into the rivers. (aaa)