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Jakarta Post

Kalijodo almost empty, residents leave without resistance

Safrin La Batu and Agnes Anya
Jakarta   ●   Wed, February 24, 2016

One week prior to planned evictions, Kalijodo, an infamous red-light district in the Penjaringan subdistrict on the border of North and West Jakarta, was quiet on Tuesday as most of its residents had left their homes and the buildings where they used to run their businesses.

Those who still remain in the area are also preparing to leave before the evictions that were scheduled to take place on Feb. 29.

Thirty-five-year-old Tio was busy removing items from the 3-square-meter room he has been renting for a few months to sell cigarettes, coffee and snacks to the customers of nearby bars and cafes.

'€œI just spent Rp 10 million (US$744) to buy items to fill this kiosk. I just started to sell the items but I was told to leave,'€ he told The Jakarta Post, adding he would temporarily store the items at a friend'€™s house while looking for another place to restart his business.

'€œWhat a bad move the administration is making. It evicts people without thinking about the impact the eviction has on small people like me,'€ he said.

Tio, who originally comes from Pemalang in Central Java, said he came to Jakarta three years ago, leaving his wife and three children at home, in the hope he would find a job to support his family, including his children'€™s education.

'€œOn average, I earned Rp 600,000 a day from this kiosk. How can I feed my family now?'€ he asked.

The Jakarta administration, which plans to turn Kalijodo into a green zone as stipulated in a 2014 bylaw on spatial planning, has promised apartments in low-cost rental buildings (rusunawa) in Marunda, North Jakarta, and Pulo Gebang in East Jakarta.

However, not all affected residents are eligible to get apartments. Ika previously said that those who have work connected with Kalijodo'€™s nightlife would not be eligible, saying that the administration is afraid they would cause '€œsocial problems'€ in a new place. Those who do not hold Jakarta ID cards will not be eligible either.

Data from local authorities shows that of Kalijodo 3,052 residents, 1,405 have jobs related to the area'€™s nightlife, including 450 prostitutes, 100 security guards and parking wardens and 300 support workers, like cleaners. The remainder, about 1,600 residents, have work or businesses outside of the area'€™s nightlife.

Penjaringan subdistrict head Abdul Khalit was quoted by as saying that, after checking residents'€™ documents, only 202 families from 1,340 were found to be eligible to get rusunawa apartments.

'€œNinety-five families have been relocated to the Marunda rusunawa,'€ he said.

Some residents who have secured an apartment in one of the two rusunawa have also expressed fear that they will not be able to find good jobs in the new place, as they have so far earned money from running kiosks in front of their houses, or from renting out their garages as parking spaces for people in search of the nightlife.

Nur, 48, who runs a kiosk at her home, said that although her family had secured an apartment in the Marunda rusunawa, her life would not be the same again because she would lose her income. '€œI will definitely move from here, but I would say that life will not be easy [in the new place] because I have lived [and earned money from] this place for 23 years.'€

The Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian said recently that police officers were in Kalijodo to clear the area of thugs and criminals.

Last week, police officers raided the house of Abdul Aziz, or better known as Daeng Aziz, a notorious figure in the area, and found hundreds of sharp weapons and dozens of crates of alcohol. The police subsequently named him a suspect for possessing the items. The police also charged him with human trafficking offenses for allegedly employing girls as prostitutes in his bars.