Jakarta urban poor struggle aganist eviction


by Wardah Hafidz, Indonesia

Being triggered by the on-going evictions and confiscations of means of living belonging to the urban poor, the urban poor network held a mass protest in front of the governor`s office on 5th December. 800 protesters demanded the government to stop eviction/confiscation and to fulfil the rights of the urban poor. This protest was widely covered by the press.

Despite this protest, the provincial government still sticks on eviction and confiscation policy. Sutiyoso, Jakarta governor, said to the press that, as a governor, he is responsible for making Jakarta a clean, orderly, and competitive city. He said that he would be wrong if he takes decisions that merely side with the poor (Kompas, 2nd December 2003). Further, he explained that such protests will not stop him continuing `the law enforcement` in Jakarta. For him, eviction means giving back the land being seized by the poor (no matter how long they have been living there) to the `legal owners` that often could easily get the certificate of land ownership through bribery. Regarding the confiscation, he said, "Side walk vendors often seize public facilities. Consequently, economic growth will be suspended and affecting national economic growth". (Kompas, 3rd December 2003). In his eyes, informal economic sector have no contribution to the economy. Following the governor`s mindset, eviction and confiscation keep taking place. The provincial government, moreover, strengthen the force of municipality officers of security (government apparatus that is obliged to do eviction and confiscation) by giving 48 additional motorcycles provided for expelling mass protest to the Central Jakarta municipality (Koran Tempo, 6th December 2003).

Through the last two weeks (24th November-7th December 2003) there were another eviction and 8 confiscations over the means of earning living of the urban poor. On 24 November 2003 (on the eve of Eid al-Fitr), 27 becak drivers from Semper, Warakas and Kebon Bawang (North Jakarta) lost their jobs because their becaks were confiscated. The confiscation over the means of the earning living belong to the side walk vendors happened in Kebayoran Lama, Pondok Labu, Pasar Minggu, Lebak Bulus, Mampang Prapatan (on 24th November), Pasar Senen (28th November), Mampang Prapatan (1st December), and in Kemayoran (3rd December 2003). At least 400 vendors lost their means of earning living. Meanwhile, 179 households living around the edge of the Ria Rio dam in Pedongkelan (East Jakarta) had no choice but to knockdown their own homes. They had to do that because the local government will forcibly evict them if they do not dismantle their homes by 8th December. Knocking down their own homes means rescuing some materials that can still be used to build houses in some other areas, something that could impossibly be done if forced eviction takes place. Besides, most of them received 300,000 rupiahs as the compensation, but that amount was only enough to cover the cost of renting of a small room (around 3x3 meter) for two months. And the problem of land ownership in the area (some different parties claimed to be the owners) is never taken into account by the local government. (The latest news reported that there are still 20 houses stand in that area, and the government postpone the eviction).

So far, the victims of the past evictions still have no alternative shelter. Some hundreds families still living on the boat in Kali Adem, and some other hundreds people still living in the evicted area in Jembatan Besi, Tanjung Duren, and Cengkareng Timur. And this numbers of the homeless inevitably increases with the fire in Kampung Damai, a slum area in Penjaringan, North Jakarta on 7th December 2003. Based on several suspicious incidents before, the people living in Kampung Damai believe that certain group burned down this kampong on purpose to expel those who live on that recently disputed land. At least 200
homes turned into ashes because of this fire. Together with the victims, we will still demand the government to fulfil our rights to housing and respect our social, economic and cultural rights.

In the light of the on-going evictions and the insistence of Jakarta provincial government`s upon eviction/confiscation, your continuous support will still be very meaningful for the Indonesian urban poor.

Urban Poor Consortium - Konsorsium Kemiskinan Kota
Billy Moon Blok H-I/7 Jakarta 13450, Phone: 62 - 21 - 8642915,86902407, Fax: 62.21.86902408