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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014

Asia

Jokowi promises to give attention to Jakarta's issues

The Jakarta Post/ANN | Thursday, Aug 14, 2014

JAKARTA - Governor and president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has vowed to prioritize the capital's issues once he assumes the country's top job.

He made the statement in response to a reporter's question regarding flooding on Monday. Some parts of South Jakarta, including the tony area of Kemang, became inundated following incessant rainfall throughout the afternoon.

"Jakarta's issues can't be solved by the city administration alone. It takes the city and the central government to solve them. I have discussed the matter with Pak deputy governor to expedite relevant projects," Jokowi said on Tuesday at City Hall.

Jakarta Public Works Agency head Manggas Rudy Siahaan shared the sentiment, saying that several key issues needed the central government's hand.

"Kemang was inundated because it is located near the Krukut River, which overflowed after heavy rainfall, and the Mampang River. Both rivers are overseen by the central government," he said, saying that the city administration could only carry out emergency measures to tackle the issue while a long-term solution should be handled by the government.

"For example, when embankments break, we can immediately fix them. However, as for a long-term solution, we definitely need relocations [of squatters occupying riverbanks]," he told The Jakarta Post.

Manggas pointed out that rivers had overflown as their widths had been reduced due to illegal housing and careless lifestyles.

He, however, admitted that the rampant practice of converting private housing into commercial property in Kemang had become another factor causing flooding.

Manggas said the city was preparing to relocate squatters.

"We are listing [the squatters] and preparing to acquire designated areas," he cited, adding that the central government had promised to insert the dredging project in the revised state budget.

"We do hope that the residents will cooperate with us," he said.

Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said that he would introduce a zero tolerance policy against squatters and illegal housing on the riverbanks.

"If we all want Jakarta to be more comfortable, we have to abide by the law. After only a few hours of heavy rainfall, flooding occurs. So don't blame us for asking people to obey the law," he said.

Ahok said the relocations would make way for the city administration to build an inspection road as an access point for dredging equipment.

Other than infrastructure projects, Jokowi pointed out that the city administration would also depend on the central government to solve perennial traffic issues in the capital, home to 10 million people.

"In the transportation sector, for an example, the city administration can't immediately solve traffic issues because the administrations of satellite cities -Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi - need to sit together and discuss the issues. We should build mass public transportation connecting Jakarta and these cities to shift commuters from private vehicles to public transportation. Who can mandate this? Not Jakarta governor, but the central government," Jokowi said.

He, however, promised he would push the governors of neighbouring provinces to sit down together discuss the issue.

"I will call all of them. It all can be done within a week," he said.

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