The Jakarta Post
Despite local resistance and ongoing legal appeals against eviction orders, hundreds of officers from the South Jakarta administration, Jakarta Public Order Agency and South Jakarta Police are set to demolish dozens of houses in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta.
Bukit Duri subdistrict head Mardi Youce said on Monday that 600 officers would demolish houses in neighborhood units (RT) 11, 12 and 15 of community unit (RW) 10. The houses, located on the banks of the Ciliwung River, are to be torn down on Tuesday morning to make way for a project to mitigate flooding by widening the river to a width of 20 to 50 meters.
According to Mardi, the three RTs comprise 97 families, each of which is entitled to a low-cost rental apartment (rusunawa) in either Cipinang Besar Selatan or Pulo Gebang, both in East Jakarta.
'Eighty-five of 97 families have received the keys to their rusunawa, while the rest opted to stand their ground. So most of them have agreed to move out,' Mardi told The Jakarta Post.
The city administration plans to demolish houses and buildings along the banks of Ciliwung as part of a normalization program. Houses and buildings in the three RTs of RW 10, as well as others in RWs 11 and 12, have been targeted by the administration because of their proximity to the banks of the river.
A group representing residents of RTs 11, 12 and 15 previously filed a petition with the Jakarta State Administration Court (PTUN) against an eviction notice issued by the Tebet district head, saying its issuance had not followed proper procedures.
Jakarta Legal Aid (LBH Jakarta) lawyer Matthew Michele Lenggu, said on Monday that the district office should have reached an agreement with residents before evicting them.
'In this case, no agreement was reached between the district office and residents, but the former decided to forge ahead regardless,' Matthew said, adding that as the eviction notice had been challenged at the court, no demolition or evictions could go ahead until a ruling had been issued.
'If it goes ahead, it will serve as solid proof that the regional administration does not respect the legal process,' he said.
Commenting on the legal process, Mardi said that after a discussion with the South Jakarta administration's legal team, he believed that, given the public interest, it was not necessary to wait for a court decision before beginning demolition.
'There's no need to wait. The river project must be carried out for the sake of the public,' he insisted, adding that the petition had been filed by LBH Jakarta and that the court had yet to schedule a hearing.
Naswadi, a Bukit Duri resident who has moved to the Cipinang Besar Selatan rusunawa, said he had voluntarily demolished his own house two weeks ago after a district official told him that it would be better to do so than 'fight a losing battle'.
According to Naswadi, the official told a number of local residents that they would suffer more losses if they refused to move to a rusunawa.
'He said things could go messy, like what happened in Kampung Pulo, if we didn't leave our homes. So I demolished my own house to sell all the scrap metal,' Naswadi continued.
He was referring to August's clash between the East Jakarta administration and denizens of Kampung Pulo, which lies just a few hundred meters from Bukit Duri. The incident began when the administration tried to evict around 1,500 riverbank households comprising 3,400 residents.
Sandyawan Sumardi, leader of Sanggar Ciliwung Merdeka, an NGO that works to empower inhabitants of the banks of the Ciliwung, said local people had proposed land compensation.
According to Sandyawan, the 500 people who reside in the three RTs are seeking the administration's agreement to a proposal to build a so-called elevated village on nearby land owned by state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia.
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