BNPB calls for calm as haze reaches Jakarta

An woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds the city in Palangkaraya on October 22, 2015. Photo: AFP/Wisanggeni

The forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo this year haven’t directly affected us here in the capital. Until now.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that the haze reached Jakarta over the weekend.

“The Jakarta sky was veiled by thin smoke from the haze originating from Sumatra and Borneo. It happened from Friday until today (Sunday),” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the Data Information Centre and Public Relations at the BNPB, as quoted by BeritaSatu yesterday. 

The fine smoke particles were floating 1,000 to 3,000 meters above Jakarta, meaning it was unlikely any of us on the ground below could breathe in the smoke.

Despite the haze making its way here, the BNPB feels there’s no need for alarm.

“Citizens don’t have to worry about the thin smoke from the forest fires. It’s temporary, and it could easily change directions because of the wind,” Sutopo said.

According to a satellite reading by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), more than three-quarters of Indonesia was blanketed by forest fires smoke on Sunday morning.

Yet the government still hasn’t categorized this year’s haze problem as a national crisis. Perhaps the government would change their mind if the haze in Jakarta was as thick as in Sumatra or Borneo.

We certainly hope something can put a stop to the haze across Indonesia, and quickly. We’ve seen first hand how lives can be affected for those living in Pekanbaru, Riau – the epicenter of this year’s haze crisis – in our mini-documentary series ‘Into the Haze’:

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