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Jakarta Post

‘Black River’ clean, swimmable last year: Residents

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, August 4, 2018   /   08:57 am
‘Black River’ clean, swimmable last year: Residents A picture of children swimming in the clean Sentiong River nearby the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, was uploaded to the Facebook account of Rifqi Fathullah on March 26, 2017. The cleaning of the river, also dubbed "Kali Item" (black river) for its pollution, has now become the Jakarta administration’s big challenge ahead of Asian Games. (Via

Photos of a purportedly clean Sentiong River in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, taken in 2017 have gone viral on social media, following recent reports that the river in the vicinity of the athletes village has once again returned to being the smelly and dirty “Black River”.

The photos that depicted children playing and swimming in the clean and flowing water were taken by Rifqi Fathullah and uploaded to his Facebook account on March 26, 2017.

Read also: 'Black River' residents challenge viral photo owner to prove authenticity

“When Pak Ahok [former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama] was the governor, the river was very clean,” he told on Friday, referring to the administration of Ahok (between 2014 and 2017) when river restoration was one of his working agendas.

Rifqi said he had taken the photos over a year ago because he was amazed with its rare cleanliness.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan decided to cover the river with a giant black nylon net, which cost Rp 580 million (US$40,000), to prevent it from emanating a foul smell ahead of the Asian Games.

Een Hermawan, the subdistrict head of Sunter Jaya, which borders Kemayoran, confirmed that the photos were a real depiction of the river during the Ahok era.

“[The condition as depicted in the photos] is real,” he said. 

He said the accumulation of mud in the riverbed was dredged once a year.

Read also: What makes Jakarta's rivers ugly and smelly

Residents living around the river also said it was cleaner during the time Ahok and his predecessor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo assumed power as governor.

Munari, 53, and Wiwin, 39, said they had seen that the river was cleaned regularly during Jokowi and Ahok's time. 

The river started to become dirty and smelly again after Ahok left the post, they said. (gis)

Editor's note (Aug. 5, 2018): The Jakarta Post cannot verify the authenticity of the images uploaded by Rifqi Fathullah on his Facebook page. This article has been updated to reflect this.