Relocation plan to proceed despite criticism
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The Jakarta administration and the central government will commence repair work on the banks of the Ciliwung River by the end of this year.
Critics, however, say the authorities have yet to come up with a feasible relocation plan for thousands of residents who will be evicted from the riverbanks during the repair work.
A Public Works Ministry official, Bastari, said that the ministry planned to widen the river from Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, to Manggarai, Central Jakarta, by 35 to 50 meters.
The official said at a discussion held by the Rujak Center for Urban Studies (RCUS) recently that widening the river was aimed at easing the load of the river to prevent major flooding that still plagues the city during the rainy season.
To facilitate the work, the Public Housing Ministry plans to relocate residents living on the banks of the Ciliwung River to a military compound in Berlan, East Jakarta.
The ministry’s deputy of formal housing, Pangihutan Marpaung, said that construction of 21 low-cost apartment blocks, locally known as rusunawa, costing Rp 2.3 trillion (US$243.8 million), would start by the end of this year.
He said the initial plan was to build 44 apartment blocks on 20 hectares of the compound, but the military only allotted 7 hectares for the construction.
Pangihutan said the ministry was in the process of negotiating with state-owned drug manufacturer PT Indofarma to secure some of the company’s land, increasing the total available area to 9 hectares.
The land in Berlan, however, will not be able to accommodate all 34,051 families currently living along the riverbank, according to Pangihutan. “Therefore, we will provide other residential options in the future,” he said. Urban analysts have criticized the government’s relocation plan, saying that it would create problems for those evicted.
RCUS program manager Dian Tri Irawaty said the Ciliwung evictees could face problems, such as loss of livelihood and psychological trauma.
An urban planning expert from RCUS, Elisa Sutanudjaja, also doubted that the relocation would be successful due to the design of the rusunawa. “If the government is adamant about building higher than 30 floors, then I’m afraid it will be impossible for the relocation to succeed,” she said. “First, maintenance costs will be higher compared to the cost of maintaining a rusunawa with fewer floors. Second, it will be harder for the residents to adapt to their new homes.”
Therefore, the Social Affairs Ministry was conducting a survey on the residents to measure their sentiments about the relocation plan, he said.
However, Pangihutan said that the government would proceed with the relocation plan regardless of the outcome of the survey.
Besides the plan to widen the Ciliwung river, the government together with the World Bank has another project called the Urgent Flood Mitigation Project (JUFMP), which involves building dikes and dredging 11 canals and four reservoirs over the next five years. (han)