V. Governor Sandiaga Uno says citizens share blame for Kalijodo Park falling into disrepair

Sandiaga Uno, while still vice governor of Jakarta, speaking at Indonesia Infrastructure Week on November 7, 2017. Photo: @sandiuno / Instagram
Sandiaga Uno, while still vice governor of Jakarta, speaking at Indonesia Infrastructure Week on November 7, 2017. Photo: @sandiuno / Instagram

Kalijodo was once one of Jakarta’s most infamous neighborhoods, the strip of land alongside the Angke river known primarily as a hotspot for prostitution and gambling. The red light district was finally demolished by former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in February 2016 and just one year later, Kalijodo was transformed into a large public park featuring playgrounds, a futsal court and one of the region’s biggest skate parks.

The creation of Kalijodo Park, funded entirely by the CSR programs of several private companies at Ahok’s request, was seen as one of the former governor’s greatest contributions to Jakarta . Now, about one and a half years after its opening,  Ahok’s successors are coming under fire for allowing the park to fall into a state of dirtiness and disrepair.

As can be seen in the video above and pictures below, Kalijodo Park is now routinely strewn with garbage, much of the grass has died and damage to the park’s facilities has gone unrepaired.

When questioned about the park’s poor maintenance, Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno told reporters that while the Jakarta Government could build the park, the problem is that it could not maintain it alone.

“Now the issue is being raised by our friends in the media friends, that Kalijodo is not being well-maintained. Why? Because of the government and private business (are not maintaining it), but also the people can not maintain it as well. So we can’t just build it,” Sandiaga said yesterday as quoted by Kompas.

The vice governor said it was the joint responsibility not just of the city government but also the business community as well as the people from the local community that used the park. He said he was also worried about new infrastructure around the capital, such as new sporting facilities built for the Asian Games, if they could not be maintained.

Sandiaga’s comments drew the ire of many netizens, who suspected that the administration of Governor Anies Baswedan was neglecting the park because it was a symbol of Ahok’s successes.

“Why is Kalijodo in disrepair and the leaders of Jakarta don’t want to maintain it now? Obviously because it’s the work of Ahok. And why don’t that want to maintain it? Because the current leaders want Ahok’s work to look bad in the eyes of Jakarta’s citizens.”

Sandiaga walked back his statements somewhat today, admitting that the lack of maintenance in Kalijodo was due to overlapping government agencies bearing responsibility for the park and a lack of coordination between them. He vaguely suggested that one agency should be put in charge of the park’s maintenance but did not offer any concrete action.

Last year, after reports showed that many of the preman (thugs) and prostitutes that had previously worked in Kalijodo had returned to areas around their old places of business, Sandiaga helpfully suggested that the preman could be given jobs as debt collectors and that the Kalijodo could be revitalized by using Las Vegas as a model.

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