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Jakarta Post

Ahok 'insists' evictions must go ahead despite residents’ objections

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 26, 2017   /  03:58 pm
Ahok 'insists' evictions must go ahead despite residents’ objections A gift: Non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama receives a painting of late former president Sukarno from residents of Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta, during a visit on Jan. 26. (JP/Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)

While other candidates are trying to win the hearts of Jakartans ahead of the gubernatorial election by promising no more evictions will occur, incumbent candidate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is walking in the opposite direction.

While campaigning in the densely-populated area of Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta, Ahok insisted that to improve Jakarta, he had no option but to evict people living in the area and move them to low-cost apartments.

“If it is possible, I hope we won’t be evicted,” said Wahyuni, a 54-year-old resident who had been living in a house beside Pesanggrahan River for 30 years.

To earn an income, Wahyuni opened a small snack stall, which sold affordable goods for her neighbors, right beside the river.

“The income from selling snacks is not that much, but even if the city administration promises compensation [for relocated residents], it’s not enough to buy a house in Jakarta. Besides, flooding doesn’t happen here,” Wahyuni said.

Some of the residents shouted they would not vote for Ahok if the non-active governor insisted carrying out evictions. Others said they trusted Ahok whatever he decided.

"I will follow what you think is best for us," said Bukhori, 63, a Pesanggrahan resident.

Warm welcome: Non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama talks with residents of Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta, on Jan. 26.(JP/Nurul Fitri Ramadhani)

In the visit, Ahok told Wahyuni and other residents that he should relocate people in the area to normalize the river, arguing that it was prone to landslides, which could potentially harm the residents.

“I’m sorry to say but I have to do it [the eviction]. I have no option. I’m worried of the [potential for] landslides, because the foundation of the houses are not supported by concrete,” Ahok told them.

He said that he did not want to lie to the residents only to win their vote for the election and promised to pay reasonable compensation.

“I don’t want to be like other [candidates] that promise [residents] there will be no more evictions, while they will do it if they’re elected,” Ahok added.

Ahok has been facing sharp criticism from people from various societal elements and has been continuously attacked by his election competitors for his aggressive evictions.

Since he succeeded then governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2014, he has evicted residents from a number of areas near riverbanks, forcing thousands of residents to move to low-cost apartments. (ebf)

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