Although overshadowed by the politicized blasphemy charges against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, one of the most contentious issues in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election was Ahok’s policy of evicting citizens living in slum areas, especially those located near waterways that the former governor was working to normalize as a key flood control measure.
Current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan criticized Ahok’s eviction policy and promised a more humane approach under his administration, saying there would be no more “tearful” evictions. Yesterday, residents of Jalan Cakung Cilincing in East Jakarta demonstrated in front of Jakarta City Hall to demand that the governor keep that promise and not evict them.
“Residents of Jalan Cakung Cilincing reject the eviction and refuse (to be relocated to government housing). We hope our demands are met in accordance with the governor’s promise,” said Ahmad, the chairman of the United Madura Alliance, during his speech at the rally as quoted by Kompas.
The government informed the residents of Cakung Cilincing on Friday that they were being evicted due to the construction of a new water canal project. They were given one more final notice this week.
Ahmad reminded the governor that Aliansi Madura Bersatu and the residents of Cakung Cilincing had supported Anies and campaigned for his victory based on his promises.
Terima kasih atas dukungan teman-teman Aliansi Madura Bersatu. Mari kita bersama-sama kembalikan Jakarta menjadi kota yang manusiawi.
“It’s not easy to win Pak Governor, working day and night, crying, not getting rest, empty stomachs. We prayed day and night and thank God, you won. We now demand the rights, promises to us,” Ahmad said.
Anies has not yet made any statements regarding the demonstration but East Jakarta City Secretary Usmayadi said yesterday that the government was still planning on going through with the evictions as the water channel normalization project was important to prevent further flooding in the Cakung area.
Usmayadi said that the only buildings that would be demolished were those built illegally and without proper certificates. An estimated 122 buildings are set for demolition.
While Ahok was heavily criticized by some for his eviction policy, the former governor defended them, in part, on the grounds that his administration’s was building numerous new rusunawa (low-cost apartments) to house those who had been evicted.
Ahok’s administration had initiated long-term plans to build many more rusunawa to house the capital’s neediest families (his goal was to build 50,000 units by the end of 2017), but many of those plans have been cancelled now under the administration of current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
Last month, the Jakarta Public Housing and Settlement Agency announced that it had dropped plans to build eight rusunawa towers that had already been allocated IDR1.3 trillion (US$90 million) in the 2018 Jakarta budget, apparently due to a lack of progress on the construction and their inability to get the building completed before the end of the year.