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President plans Jakarta overhaul JAKARTA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stated his commitment to overhauling the country’s sprawling capital. Jakarta's facelift will center on managing its most pressing problems: traffic, garbage and waterways. The President met a range of Jakarta councilors on Tuesday (16/11/04) to discus tourism and the beautification of one of Jakarta's prime tourist areas: the Ancol complex of theme parks and markets on Jakarta's northern shores.
They apparently discussed more than Ancol's future and SBY, as the President is affectionately known, unveiled the rudimentary outline of his plan to tackle the primary causes for the capital's status as one of the world's most polluted cities. He described his plan as a means to create a "complete city" of Jakarta by focusing on immediate problems and long-term solutions, reported detikcom.
"What's important is long-term planning. If it's done ad hoc it doesn't solve the problem because it will cause problems in other areas. We have to get down to it together. It's not easy to manage a metropolis," he told reporters. Top of the list is reducing traffic congestion in the capital - a priority Jakartans are likely to applaud. In addition to the frustration of endless traffic jams, Jakarta's teeming roadways are a primary cause of the city's awesome air pollution problems.
The number of vehicles in Indonesia increased by over 6 million between 1995 and 2000. The Jakarta Police traffic division announced earlier this year that an additional 6,000 civilian autos would be registered per month this year. As of March, the department had 1,464,600 cars on record and a further 3,276,890 motorcycles. This does not include public buses and government vehicles or the hundreds of thousands of vehicles and motorcycles registered outside the special province of Jakarta. An estimated six million people commute from Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi to work in Jakarta special province by day.
Atmospheric lead pollution in Jakarta is about 1.3 micrograms per cubic meter - well above the World Health Organization limit of 0.5-1.0 micrograms per cubic meter - and experts say that approximately 3 million children in the capital are at risk to lead exposure that could affect brain development. In early September, the Asian Development Bank (ABD) announced that hazardous air pollution costs Indonesia $400 million annually in lost productivity and that the figure could increase tenfold by 2010 unless urgent measures are taken to resolve the problem.
Although SBY was short on details, he did mention his personal support for developing a subway system - a plan that has failed to win favor in the past due to the territory's seismic activity and a lack of funds. Concerned parties, however, have long called for the development of the capital's chaotic public transport system and for efforts to improve the shoddy construction that characterizes much of the city's public works. Next on the President's list of priorities is tackling Jakarta's annual floods, which overrun many of its poorest areas and affect hundreds of thousands of people.
The Dutch colonial capital of Batavia was built on the swampy alluvial lowlands on the north-west coast of Java. Urbanization and industrialization has radically altered the area and mother nature's ability to cope with the wet season, when more than 2,000 millimeters of rain fall on Jakarta. The floods of 2002 were the worst in recent history and at least 50 people died in flooding that brought the capital to a complete halt for days on end. At the height of the flooding, 55,000 people were forced to leave their inundated homes and required immediate relief aid in the 78 areas prone to flooding.
The President said that his plan to handle this problem will focus on developing the city's manmade canals. The Jakarta government's efforts to dredge the city's muck-clogged waterways are felt to be inadequate and slipshod by the majority of Jakartans. But while residents may be reassured that the President takes the deplorable state of the capital's waterways to heart, previous initiatives to remodel and develop the canal system have become 'bogged down' in cost considerations, as purchasing the land needed to expand the system requires many millions of dollars.
SBY also expressed a desire to clean up Jakarta's rivers. "We have to find a way to make the rivers in Jakarta our 'friends'. In other cities, the rivers are a part of their beauty and are not dirtied," he said. This leads on to the third of SBY's priorities: waste management. Rivers and waterways are often considered little more than a cheap and convenient waste disposal system. Jakarta's dumps are also in a state of crisis and SBY said that he would push for the speedy resolution of the case involving the Akhir Bantar Gebang dump.
Residents in Bekasi living around the dump had lobbied for its closure when the Jakarta government's contract expired at the end of last year. A provisional agreement to continue dumping some 6,000 tons of waste everyday was immediately signed and remains controversial. The Jakarta administration is also now working on a plan to build four incinerators in Bogor by 2007. The President also voiced concern for the deplorable housing conditions suffered by millions of Jakarta's poorest residents and said that improving housing in the capital would be a top priority in plans to revitalize the city.
Governor Sutiyos's administration was widely condemned earlier this year for its ruthlessness in evicting poor squatters from government land and along waterways. The final priority in efforts to create a 'complete city' center on reclamation projects, the President said. Plans to transform 2700 ha of reclaimed land along 32 km of Jakarta Bay into a new Central Business District and harbor, catering for an estimated population of 1.5 million people, were put on hold in 2002 but interest in developing the area has resurfaced lately.
And who will pay for these ambitious plans? The President said that the central and provincial governments, as well as the private sector, will work together to fund the initiatives. "We are now formulating the 'complete city of Jakarta' concept. I will soon invite the Jakarta governor and authorities together with relevant ministers (to discuss this further)," he added. Given the massive nature of the problems, most Jakartans will not be expecting rapid traffic, waste and waterway resolutions but will most likely appreciate the President's concern for Jakarta’s image as a nightmare of polluted modernity.

Posted in General @ 17 November 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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