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The mud flow that doesn't end SIDOARJO - While former Indonesian president Suharto was known as the 'Smiling General', current president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is known as the 'Crying General'. He shed tears when he talked with the victims of the mud flow near Sidoarjo when they recounted their struggle. Back then, Yudhoyono promised direct compensation. More than one year later, the only company to have paid up is Australian oil and gas explorer Santos.

Santos, which has an 18 percent stake in the exploration well, which is majority owned by Lapindo Brantas, says the order from the government will not have an immediate effect on it. A spokesman says Santos is up to date with cost calls from the disaster now totaling 21.1 million euro.

The mud flow, which has been active since 29 May 2006, exhausts around 150,000 cubic meters of mud every single day and may flow indefinitely. At this moment it has already consumed an area the size of Venice. Australian artist Susan Norrie has made a series of videos which brings this disaster to world attention. Sidoarjo is just south of the second largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya.

The mud flow, referred to by locals as just 'Lapindo', has displaced over 21,000 people 23 schools and 20 companies have shut down. Hundreds of hectares of residential and agricultural land is now just a mud swamp. At least 13 people have been killed in various accidents surrounding the mud flow.

The mud flow has now become a macabre tourist destination. Some houses are beneath five meters of mud and in some places only roofs are visible. Most of the displaced people live in rented houses and some 2,500 are living in a refugee camp at the central market of Porong, near Sidoarjo. For over one year these victims have made makeshift houses in the still bustling market. Most of them have lost their homes and their job.

Some 760 families are refusing to leave the market. They want to see compensation from the government first. The government only offers 20 percent, while the families ask 50 percent. "The Government chose this as a temporary camp and now they want to move us again," tells Bamtang Muryantoro, the refugee camp's chairman. "But the villagers don't want to leave until proper compensation is received. We are worried. We don't believe the Government any more. We want to handle our own affairs."

Further eroding the government's credibility is the presence of Aburizal Bakrie in the current government. He is the Minister of People's Welfare. He is also a member of the same Bakrie family that used to be the owners of Lapindo Brantas. They sold the company late 2006. This apparent conflict of interest does not seem to be a problem to the Indonesian government however. At this moment, compensation for thousands of victims is being delayed because many lack proper proof of ownership.


Link to related event Related event:
Sidoarjo mudflow

Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow') Related blog entries (category 'Sidoarjo mudflow'):
01 August 2007 · Report blaming quake stokes volcano row
20 June 2007 · Mud flow causes living room geyser
17 May 2007 · Indonesia calls in Japan to deal with mud flow crisis
01 May 2007 · Mudflow victims agree to compensation payment arrangement
27 April 2007 · Dam near mud flow source starts to crack
17 April 2007 · Bali police releases hotel safety ratings


Posted in Sidoarjo mudflow @ 21 October 2007 07:55 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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