After a month-long makeover by the city administration that saw the renovation of the market building and the forcible relocation of street vendors, the Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta officially reopened on Monday.
With smoother traffic flow, a cleaned up environment and a newly painted Blok G market building — which now houses the relocated street vendors — the market hopes to lure more local and international shoppers to Tanah Abang.
As recently as last month, many motorists avoided the area, notorious for horrendous traffic jams caused by the hundreds of vendors and constant rotation of illegally parked vehicles edging into the streets.
However, after the city administration reined in the street vendors and the thugs who ran the area, shoppers and commuters can now easily access what is the biggest textile market in Southeast Asia.
Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who officially reopened the market building on Monday, said he was optimistic the market would stay organized so long as all stakeholders maintained the gains they had made until now.
After committing to the project a month ago, Jokowi intensively monitored the relocation and renovation process.
He said that if the market was well promoted and kept up, customers would flock there.
The governor also advised vendors to stay within the building and manage their stores well, so patrons would be happy to shop there. “You have to smile and say ‘thank you’ to the customers,” he told them.
The governor also encouraged the vendors to enliven the market, adding that the city administration would also hold regular artistic performances every weekend for six months to help promote the new-look market.
The Blok G building used to be all but abandoned, as only two out of four floors were occupied by vendors, and it sat at one of worst traffic bottlenecks in Jakarta.
Eva Susanti, a 40-year-old clothing seller who started her business in Tanah Abang in 1998, said she was glad to get a new kiosk inside, though up until now it was rare for patrons to enter the building.
Eva said she hoped none of the vendors would go back to the street, so the customers would start coming into the building to shop.
“If the building is full, people will definitely come inside,” she said, adding that she was fine starting from zero again to get customers.
As many as 968 vendors now occupy lots inside Blok G after registering with city-owned market operator PD Pasar Jaya.
Relocating the vendors into the building and mitigating the gridlock on the streets along the market and nearby train station were considered notable accomplishments for the governor and his deputy, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Former governors, including Sutyoso and Fauzi Bowo, had tried and failed on several occasions to clean up the Tanah Abang market area.
The city administration under Jokowi has achieved similar progress at the Jatinegara and Pasar Minggu markets, and several others slated for make-overs remain on the governor’s hit list.
Many analysts believe that Jokowi has taken on these projects as part of a strategy to build support for a presidential run in the 2014 election. Recent surveys have shown that the cleanup projects have improved his electability.
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