The Jakarta Post
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has indicated that the city's water provision, handled by two private firms PT Aetra Air Jakarta and PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja), constituted a human rights violation.
Komnas HAM commissioner Sandrayati Moniaga said during a trial session on water privatization at the Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday that the commission had found indications of human rights violations, especially related to access to clean water, after the cooperation agreement between city-owned water operator PT PAM Jaya and its two foreign partners ' Aetra and Palyja ' was signed in June 1997.
Sandra, an expert witness in the trial, said the government had not yet fulfilled the right to water and sanitation to at least half of Jakarta's 10 million residents, according to the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI).
'The coverage of piped water is also limited. There are only 870,000 connections,' she said, adding that was only 45 percent of the target.
The commissioner also emphasized that water tariffs in Jakarta were the highest in Indonesia and higher even than several cities in Southeast Asia.
Residents should pay around Rp 7,000 (60 US cents) per cubic meter while those on a lower income should pay Rp 1,050 per cubic meter.
However, only few low-income families can enjoy the facilities after 16 years of operation.
The Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatization (KMMSAJ) filed a lawsuit last year, demanding the court annul the cooperation between PAM Jaya and the two private firms. It said the cooperation had failed to guarantee an adequate supply of clean potable water in Jakarta. The privatization has also caused state losses of at least Rp 590 billion through PAM Jaya's debts to the two companies.
Sandra said if the cooperation with private firms was proven to be ineffective to fulfill the need of clean water in the city, the government was obligated to retract the facilities of permit, license and concession, including annulling the cooperation agreement.
'As access to clean water is a human right, Komnas HAM recommended the court ensure the verdict was objective and impartial,' she said.
Sandra said Komnas HAM also recommended the government, especially the Public Works Ministry, the Finance Ministry and Jakarta governor, develop an integrated water resource management center in Jakarta, which included the management of groundwater and potable water.
Meanwhile, the city administration is planning to acquire shares in Palyja to resolve the poor maintenance of water access.
The trial will continue on March 18.