The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama has defended the city administration's tough eviction policy against squatters and vowed to show them no leniency starting in 2015.
The city administration has conducted dozens of evictions throughout the city this year, such as on the edge of railways at Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta and nearby the Ria Rio Reservoir in East Jakarta.
Ahok and the city administration have repeatedly been criticized for being 'inhumane' and 'anti-poor' by a number of residents and several NGOs. However, Ahok has denied such accusations and defended his policy.
'We are not 'anti-poor'. In fact, we are protecting the poor. We are relocating them to better places with better living conditions. We provide them with newly built and fully furnished rusunawa [low-cost apartments]. And you're telling me this is inhumane?' Ahok told reporters at City Hall in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.
Ahok said the evictions were conducted for the sake of the city.
'Do you know why Jakarta always floods? It's because our rivers are surrounded by illegal residences. Therefore the rivers' surroundings cannot properly absorb the overflowing water,' Ahok said.
Therefore, he went on, the squatters must be evicted in order for the city destroy the buildings and 'normalize' the river's surroundings.
Ahok said that starting next year, the city would no longer tolerate or be open to negotiation with squatters. Thus far, many of the city's projects have been delayed because of difficulties in land acquisition.
Ahok added that the city would evict illegal residents and pay compensation of an amount determined by the city administration.
Some squatters, such as those in Kampung Pulo in East Jakarta, have refused relocation as the amount of compensation was much lower than the money they spent to build their homes.
'We will pay compensation of 25 percent of the NJOP [taxable value of property] to squatters whose buildings have stood for 30 years or more. However, we will not pay compensation for those who have been there for less than 30 years,' he said.
Meanwhile, Rujak Center for Urban Studies researcher Dian Tri Irawaty said that it was unfair for the city administration to evict only squatters. She said that many buildings and neighborhoods were built in water-catchment areas, which violated the rules of spatial planning.
'For example, Taman Anggrek mall in West Jakarta, neighborhoods and commercial areas in Kelapa Gading and Pluit in North Jakarta, they are all built over water catchment areas. The difference is that the developers are powerful enough to obtain permits while the squatters are not. The squatters are not the only reason for flooding so it is unfair that they are taking all the blame,' Dian said, adding that Ahok's private residence was located in Pluit, a water-catchment area already compromised by housing development.
Separately, Jakarta Urban Poor Network (JRMK) member Kokom said that Ahok must provide a solution for the squatters before evicting them.
'For example, the city plans to evict more than 900 families living on the riverbanks of Apuran in Cengkareng, West Jakarta. However, the city has only prepared rusunawa for 200 families.
Where are the rest of the families supposed to live?' Kokom said to The Jakarta Post over the phone on Tuesday.
She also asked that the families be involved in the decision-making process. 'The city administration rarely asks for our opinion. They rarely listen to our suggestions and aspirations,' Kokom said.