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Jakarta Post

Living on the Edge

Thu, September 1, 2016   /   01:14 pm
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    Rachman, 27, lives alone in his shack, Pejagalan, Jakarta, August 2016. He has lived there since 2007. He sent her wife back to his hometown in Sumatra since the eviction. He was a parking attendant before but with the business in Kalijodo gone he now works odd jobs, if there is any. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Sri Lestari, 31, live together with his husband Benny Putra, 33, and sons Valerino, 4, and Dedy Putra, 3, in her shack, Pejagalan, Jakarta, August 2016. They had been living there since 2002. They work as a clothes vendor at several night markets. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Basri, 35, lives with his daughter Hafiza, 3, and wife Sumiyati, 30, in their shack in Pejagalan, Jakarta in this photo taken August 2016. He used to be a music operator on one of the cafes in Kalijodo but he now earns his living by selling snack and coffee. Throughout his life, he has been evicted three times. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Sumiyati, 52, live with husband Aceng, 55, and granddaughter Yohana, 16, in their shack, Pejagalan, Jakarta, August 2016. She had been living there for 12 years since 2004. Her husband makes a living by becoming an ojek [motorcycle taxi] driver. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Vivianti, 35, lives with her husband and their twin sons Kevan and Kevin, 2, in the shack under the Tomang-Pluit toll road in Pejagalan. They had been living there since 2010. Before eviction, they sold meatballs but they had their meatball cart destroyed during the eviction. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Ratnaningsih, 35, lives alone in her shack, Pejagalan, Jakarta, August 2016. She was born under the toll road but her parents went back to Lamongan, East Java, since the eviction. When business at Kalijodo was robust, she sold snacks and food at her stall. JP/Seto Wardhana

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    Couple Jony, 29, and Fitri, 24, and their children, Bima, 5, and Kaila, 3, in their home in Pejagalan. They have been living under the toll road since 2008. He worked as a parking attendant before but now he watches and guards trucks that park in the area in exchange for some money. JP/Seto Wardhana

Waging a war against poverty is not easy; make the wrong move and you will find yourself fighting against poor instead.

As one of the biggest cities in Indonesia, for most citizens, Jakarta is an Ivory Tower. It’s a city of dreams that charms people to leave their hometowns. They leave in search of a better life, better income, better education, and better in everything. But not every dream turns into reality. While the city itself is a home to 10 million people, 3.75 percent of is citizen, or about 375,000 people, live below the poverty line.

Living as those who labelled as the poor is never easy. High cost living expenses, meager income, or no income at all, low education, poor access to many government facilities have pushed some people to a downward spiral. One bad decision can change their life significantly.

Research report from Jakarta Legal Aid Institute [LBH Jakarta] shows throughout last year there were 113 evictions in the city, affecting 8,145 families and 6,283 businesses.

This year, 325 neighborhoods are at risk of forced evictions. Some have had their houses demolished.

One forced eviction happened on March 1 this year to residents living under the Tomang-Pluit section of inner ring road toll. This eviction went almost unnoticed because public attention was focused on the most celebrated forced eviction this year the previous day on Feb. 29. That day, the administration demolished Kalijodo neighborhood home to the notorious, historical red-light-district as well as 1,340 families. Kalijodo is only across the river from the under-the-toll-road community.

Only 202 Kalijodo families were entitled to low-cost rental apartments [rusunawa] in Pulo Gebang, Marunda, and Rawa Bebek.

Unable to find new jobs while having to pay more expenses—transportation cost, rusunawa rents—some of the tenants returned to their illegal settlement eventually. The returnees from the rusunawa joined about 150 other families who built shacks under the toll road, on top of the debris of their own houses, after the March eviction.

They have lived there for years, some were born there. After March and February eviction the toll road community and former Kalijodo evictees lived in a deteriorated condition. They do odd jobs like occasional parking attendant or even scrape for recyclable garbage.

Jakarta administration has been trying to catch up with rusunawa backlog but finding lands in the middle of the city is not easy. Most cases, the evictees are thrown into rusunawa, designed without any participation of the evictees, more than 10 kilometers from their job, businesses, and schools. Some even get rusunawa 25 kilometers from home, making it difficult for them to get back on their feet, let alone uplift themselves from poverty.

Forced evictions have impoverished the most vulnerable community in the city and the city’s forgotten population just try to get by with whatever they can find.


JP/ Seto wardhana