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Jakarta Post

Semarang to rejuvenate Little Netherlands old town

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang | Wed, January 20 2016 | 03:20 pm Old but new: Motorists drive through an intersection in Kota Lama, Semarang. The municipality plans to reconstruct the Kota Lama area, a business and trading district in the early 19th century until the early 20th century.(JP/Suherdjoko)(JP/Suherdjoko)

Old but new: Motorists drive through an intersection in Kota Lama, Semarang. The municipality plans to reconstruct the Kota Lama area, a business and trading district in the early 19th century until the early 20th century.( JP/Suherdjoko )

The Semarang municipality plans to reconstruct Kota Lama ( Old Town ) in the city, a business and trading district in the early 19th century until the early 20th century.

Acting Semarang mayor Tavip Supriyanto said recently that the municipality would revamp 105 buildings in Kota Lama, once called Oude Staat ( Little Netherlands ).

'€œKota Lama will have three segments, namely the Jl. Letjen Soeprapto, Jl. Mpu Tantular and Jl. Merak areas,'€ said Tavip, adding that the municipality had set aside Rp 30 billion ( US$2.2 million ) for the purpose.

He said the Semarang municipality was paying more attention to Kota Lama as it had become one of the tourist attractions in the capital of Central Java.

Many of the old buildings, most of them built with European architecture, have been neglected and damaged, with some of them collapsing in past years. Kota Lama was a neat and organized area resembling a European city, with blocks of buildings separated by wide avenues.

Previously a center of activity during the Dutch colonial era, Kota Lama was special because it was an integrated area rarely found in other cities in the country.

Overall, Kota Lama is home to 245 buildings, with 177 owned by private individuals and 68 owned by state and private companies. The grand old buildings have become an attraction in the area, especially the Tawang Railway Station as well as the canals winding through the area. Kota Lama was evidently built to resemble a Dutch town.

The municipality'€™s plan to renovate Kota Lama in the hope of attracting tourists has been welcomed by Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and residents.

'€œI will sell Kota Lama all over the world,'€ said Ganjar during a cleanup drive in Kota Lama on Sunday.

Ganjar said he had discussed the renovation plan with State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno because a number of buildings in Kota Lama were owned by state enterprises, such as PT Pelni, PT Pos Indonesia and PT Samudera Indonesia.

'€œThe Dutch paid great attention to Kota Lama. Talk alone is not enough, we must take action. So we have declared 2016 a year to rebuilding Kota Lama. We will rebuild and repair the old buildings. I'€™ve spoken with Bank Mandiri, state-run shipping line PT Pelni and state railway company PT KAI,'€ he said.

Semarang resident Ismi supported the renovation plan, saying that she had dozens of friends who cared about Kota Lama and were ready to volunteer to help.

'€œWe'€™re ready to paint or clean up Kota Lama to make it beautiful,'€ she said.

However, Agung, a local handicapped man, asked the Semarang municipality to build a children'€™s playground in Srigunting Park. '€œI often bring my children here, but what kind of recreational facilities are appropriate for them? They want slides and other children'€™s rides,'€ said Agung.

Like Agung, Nanang Antik from the Curio Traders Community, who has a store in Kota Lama, claims the area is littered with garbage and that people urinate anywhere and everywhere.

'€œI wish the area was cleaner. We are willing to organize the area. We also wish the municipality would build public toilets so that people would know where to relieve themselves,'€ said Nanang.

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