The Jakarta Post
The Bekasi Environment Agency lifted on Thursday around 50 tons of organic waste that had been inundating a river in Bahagia (happy) subdistrict in Babelan, North Bekasi, after protests from residents.
The river made headlines last week after residents, in contrast to its name, were unhappy about the river's condition since early this year.
About 2 kilometers of the river’s surface was covered in 1-meter-deep waste, estimated to weigh 400 tons. As a result, residents were haunted by floods, mosquitos and illnesses.
"The lifted 50 tons of waste was directly transported to the Burangkeng landfill. We originally prepared 23 trucks but could only use seven of them as the heavy equipment couldn't reach all the waste in the river," the agency's head for hygiene, Dodi Agus Supriyanto, told kompas.com on Thursday.
Heavy equipment could only operate near a bridge located near the river between 8 a.m. and 3.30 p.m., as 204 illegal buildings occupy the riverbank.
Three hundred people, comprising residents as well as Indonesian Military and Public Order Agency personnel, were deployed to push the waste toward the bridge. The waste was then lifted using the heavy equipment and placed in the trucks.
After the cleanup, water started to flow from the upper stream of the river, while the downstream was still covered by waste.
Dodi, however, voiced his contentment over the result, citing that cleaning the river was no easy task given that the weight of the waste inundating it was estimated to be 400 tons.
"We still have a long way to go, but we are doing the best that we can now. Next, we will be coordinating with concerned parties for river normalization efforts and dismantling the illegal buildings on the riverbank. Our target depends on how far the heavy equipment can reach the waste," he said.
He said he would deploy a team and 10 trucks to lift the waste again within two days.