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Jakarta Post

Grave crisis in Jakarta as COVID-19 cemeteries run out of space

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, December 28, 2020   /   08:26 pm
Grave crisis in Jakarta as COVID-19 cemeteries run out of space Gravediggers at the Pondok Ranggon public cemetery in East Jakarta carry a coffin using a cart on Oct. 19. (JP/P.J. Leo)

The Jakarta administration has allowed bodies of COVID-19 patients to be buried outside of dedicated graveyards.

The coordinator of the Pondok Ranggon COVID-19 public cemetery, Muhaemin, said the new regulation was aimed at addressing a shortage of graves at dedicated cemeteries.

He went on to say that the city administration had drawn up a list of criteria for burying bodies at Pondok Ranggon in East Jakarta or the Tegal Alur public cemetery in West Jakarta.

“We’re experiencing a grave crisis since Nov. 8. Now, all COVID-19 cemeteries are full,” said Muhaemin, as reported by antaranews.com on Monday.

To accommodate more bodies, the cemeteries had begun to place more than one body into graves, Muhaemin said, adding that that policy only applied if the fatalities were immediate family members listed on the same family card (KK). 

“We can only bury a body under a sharing policy if the existing grave belongs to the same family,” he said, adding that the said grave should also be spacious enough to contain a coffin measuring 90 by 210 centimeters and be located at least 50 meters from water sources.

Moreover, the said grave should also be located at least 500 m from the nearest residential area, which is standard practice in line with Religious Affairs Ministry regulations.

As of the time of reporting, the Pondok Ranggon cemetery had buried 4,650 COVID-19 bodies.

Because the cemetery was full, Muhaemin suggested that families bury their relatives under COVID-19 protocol at other cemeteries. Jakarta has one public cemetery in each of its five areas.

Read also: Experts warn of future spike in COVID-19 fatality rate

Earlier this month, the Tegal Alur cemetery increased its burial capacity.  

“On a daily basis, we bury up to 35 bodies, especially after accommodating the overflow from [the Pondok Ranggon cemetery],” Tegal Alur cemetery coordinator Wawin Wahyudi said on Dec. 4.

Prior to receiving bodies from the other cemetery, Tegal Alur would see up to 20 COVID-19 burials per day.

Despite receiving more bodies, the cemetery still had enough space, Wawin said.

The Tegal Alur cemetery has so far buried some 3,000 bodies under COVID-19 protocol. 

In September, the Jakarta administration prepared a 2-hectare plot of land at the Rorotan public cemetery in North Jakarta for COVID-19 graves, as burial space for coronavirus victims in the capital city was running out. 

Jakarta Bina Marga road agency head Hari Nugroho said the administration was currently preparing the land to be used for burials and building the necessary infrastructure. 

"We're preparing the land and building an access road to the cemetery. The construction progress is at 4 percent," Hari said on Sept. 28, as quoted by tempo.co.

The agency will also level the land to make the burial process easier. The project started on Sep. 17 and is expected to finish in December. 

"We expect this 2-ha burial space to accommodate 6,000 funerals," Hari further said. (nkn)

 

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.