Pluit dam squatters are not all destitute: Jokowi
Sita W. Dewi
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta governor is growing impatient with many squatters occupying the Pluit Dam area in North Jakarta as he has been informed that many of squatters are not poor.
'We know that there are wealthy people who live in the area illegally. I already have the data, but I don't want to reveal it,' Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
The city administration aimed to relocate thousands of squatters living in the area to start its dredging project. According to the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), around 6,800 families now occupying 20 hectares of the 80 hectare dam, 30 percent are of the middle and upper classes with monthly income ranging from Rp 3 million (US$309) to hundreds of million rupiah. The consortium represents 1,200 poor families around the dam.
Many squatters demanded proper housing or financial compensation from the administration before being relocated.
According to the governor, some of the squatters, reluctant to be relocated, actually owned a number of houses which they rent out to other people.
Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama said that the city administration had targeted to complete the relocation in the next two months.
'We want to complete [the relocation] in two or three months. We are optimistic that we can complete it soon. More than 1,000 [squatters] now live in Marunda, they are happy and have jobs,' he said, referring to the Marunda low-cost apartments in North Jakarta.
Ahok emphasized the administration's commitment to demolish the all buildings in the area.
'We will demolish them all. We will settle the issue with those 'businessmen'. The buildings belong to heavy equipment businessmen, not to residents,' he said.
The city has succeeded in relocating 420 families in existing low-cost apartments Marunda, Muara Angke and Muara Baru in North Jakarta, with rent ranging from Rp 150,000 to Rp 250,000.
To accommodate more squatters, the city has also allotted 2.3 hectares of land to build new apartments near the dam, which could accommodate 700 families. The administration also plans to buy another 6-hectare plot of land near the area to build low-cost apartments.
UPC coordinator Edi Saidi said that the city administration should not only accommodate the interests of poor families living in the Pluit Dam area during the relocation.
'We all know there are economy classes among the people there, but we can't just ignore the people of the middle and upper classes just because they have assets. They have developed their businesses and gained assets over many years. We also have to pay attention to them,' Edi told The Jakarta Post.
Edi called on the city administration to hold a dialogue to accommodate their interests.
'When relocating the people, the administration should consider the economical and social aspects. How they will keep their businesses going in the new place should also be taken into consideration,' he said.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) summoned Jokowi on Thursday to question the governor regarding an accusation that the administration had used 'armed personnel' to persuade squatters to move.
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