Makassar turns red light district into foodie area
The Jakarta Post
The administration of Makassar city, South Sulawesi, has pledged to turn the illegal red light district on Jl. Nusantara into a culinary area by the beginning of 2015.
Makassar Mayor Mohammad Ramdhan Pomanto said the policy was made in response to the people's aspirations and concern about the negative image of Jl. Nusantara as an illegal prostitution center.
'Many employers operating businesses in the area, such as massage and karaoke houses, have been violating regulations and business licenses,' Ramdhan said, Tuesday.
This, according to Ramdhan, had ruined Makassar's good image as Jl. Nusantara was located in the city's main thoroughfare, which also functioned as the city's entrance gate.
Jl. Nusantara is located right across from the Makassar Soekarno Hatta International Seaport and is as well an entrance gate to the Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport through the toll road.
'Jl. Nusantara is Makassar's display window. That's why we want to change the conditions and turn it into an interesting culinary area,' said Ramdhan.
He said the change was also expected to change the livelihood of the commercial sex workers that had been operating in the area as they could be employed as waiters and waitresses.
He also said that the economic development of the area would grow as local people and visitors had a great passion for culinary treats.
The move received a warm welcome from Makassar Bar and Massage Association chairman Sri Syahrir.
Sri said the city administration also had to clean the area of street kiosks, which are locally known as 'blue tents' because they had been misused as places for transactions between commercial sex workers and their customers.
There are many buildings on Jl. Nusantara, including shop houses, which function as residences, night entertainment spots, massage parlors, shops and restaurants. Not all of them have been turned into places for prostitution. There are also a number of non-star-rated hotels.
'We warmly welcome the city administration's plan for Jl. Nusantara', said an executive of the South Sulawesi Indonesian Women's Coalition (KPI), Husaimah Husain.
However, she suggested that the city administration discuss the matter with all the stakeholders, especially owners and workers operating in the area.
'The policy deserves appreciation. But currently the city administration has not yet talked about it openly with all the stakeholders,' Husaimah said.
Makassar legislative council's speaker Farouk M. Betta expressed the same response, saying that discussing the policy openly with all the stakeholders was important because the area did not fully belong to the city administration.
'The administration cannot just change the businesses that have been operating there unilaterally. They need to talk about it with all the stakeholders to prevent negative impacts from emerging,' Farouk said.
Meanwhile a manager of Raja Mas Massage Center operating on Jl. Nusantara, Sofyan, expressed concern over the fate of the business if the area was turned into a culinary center.
'What about the fate of our employees here? There are 10 of them,' said Sofyan.
The center initially operated until 10 p.m. Since it changed itself into a bar and massage center, it has operational hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
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