The Indonesian media is still making a big stink over the Jakarta Government’s decision to cover up the Sentiong Canal (better known as Kali Item, or Black Canal, due to its fetid appearance and stench) with a black nylon mesh curtain.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan made the call last week to cover up the canal, which lies right next to Wisma Atlet — the government provided residences for visiting athletes competing in next month’s Asian Games — and he has been defending it ever since. After doubling down on his “fix” over the weekend, he sought to deflect continued criticism from the public and media today by placing the blame for Kali Item on the administration of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
“If the previous administration of Jakarta had taken care of this, we would not have inherited Kali Item. This is because it wasn’t taken care of before, so we have inherited the problem of Kali Item,” Governor Anies told the media this afternoon.
Unfortunately for him, that defense is unlikely to end the canal curtain controversy. For one thing, Anies was inaugurated on October 16, meaning that his administration has had over eight months to clean up Kali Item. Obviously, Anies was well aware that the Asian Games are coming up in August and that the athletes’ dormitory had been placed beside the the noxious Sentiong and yet it appears no extraordinary efforts were made to fix the problem until recently (Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said they were going to acquire a water waste filter machine they were going to use on the canal back in May, but no further mention of that has been made recently).
Sandiaga had also previously told the media that they had only made the decision to put up the mesh was made by himself and Governor Anies after they received requests to fix Kali Item problem by the Asian Games’ organizers.
Moreover, many have noted that the Sentiong actually was cleaner and less smelly during Ahok’s administration due to regular cleanings by the city’s hard working pasukan orange (orange troops), but that the regular cleanings stopped after Ahok was forced to stop working in the run-up to the 2017 gubernatorial election that he ultimately lost to Anies.
Kerja bakti gabungan Pasukan Orange Upk Badan Air Dinas Kebersihan DKI Jakarta dilokasi kali Sentiong, Kemayoran Jakarta…
Sekatan kali sentiong jln.salemba tengah kel.pas enam kec.senen kondisi x bersih jlh Petugas 3 orang sdg angkat sampah
During his talk with journalists today, Governor Anies blamed international news coverage about the Kali Item controversy on the heavy coverage by local media and said that they should focus on more positive news to give Indonesia and Jakarta a better image ahead of the Asian Games.
Previously, Anies had defended the curtaining off of the canal by saying that the cause of the smell was pollutants coming from households further up the river that dredging could not solve.
Other officials said they were not only relying on the nylon curtain to contain Kali Item’s smell but they were also using other methods including “nano bubble” technology from Singapore.