Ari Supriyanti R., Lenny Tristia Tambun & Vita A.D. Busyra, Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has threatened to evict squatters in its latest move to deter the influx of immigrants into the capital, whose number is predicted to increase by a third, following this year's Idul Fitri exodus.
The newcomers, who frequently arrive without a job or money, often receive the blame for Jakarta's poverty and social problems – but the slow pace of development in other regions only serves to drive them into the already densely populated city.
During the annual Idul Fitri exodus, Jakarta residents who visit to their hometowns to celebrate the holiday with family, often return with relatives hoping for a better livelihood in the capital.
While the city administration has tried to curb the settlement of undocumented residents with raids – sending those caught without Jakarta identity cards back – this year, the administration is trying out a different approach.
"Bring your relatives to Jakarta – there's no problem with that – as long as they have enough money to buy homes or to stay at hotels," acting Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said last month. "There's also no problem with those coming here as domestic workers, because they will live in the houses of their employers."
But Basuki warned against people coming to Jakarta without either a job or money – saying they would inevitably end up building illegal settlements alongside railroads, riverbanks, dams and other prohibited grounds.
"Our solution is simple: as long as slum housing is there in Jakarta, we will continue cleaning it up – so there will be no places for those low-income people coming to Jakarta," Basuki said. "Because if they come, where would they live? There will be no more slum housing in Jakarta.
"Jakarta will be for creative entrepreneurs only – those whose income is better than that of beggars. Jakarta offers many opportunities to newcomers, so long as they are honest, willing to work hard, and are creative."
The less-outspoken Joko Widodo – the Jakarta governor and president-elect – is meanwhile trying to persuade those outside the city to stay where they are.
"It's hard to find a job in Jakarta – it's better just to stay in villages," Joko said as he visited a town in Central Java on Tuesday, according to news portal kompas.com.
Joko said formally banning people from coming into the capital and enforcing ID raids is not effective. "The ban is useless; people will keep recklessly coming to Jakarta after Idul Fitri to try their luck."
Purba Hutapea, head of the Jakarta Population and Civil Registry Agency, said whereas there would be no raids, officers would collect data on the occupants at boarding and rental houses.
"Newcomers are given permission to stay in Jakarta for 14 days. They will also need to self-report to local officials, such as the heads of local neighborhood or community units, while securing a Jakarta identity card," Purba told kompas.com.
Those who don't meet the requirements, he said, will be subject to a fine of between Rp 100,000 and Rp 20 million ($8.50 and $1,700), or a sentence of between 10 and 60 days imprisonment.
A recent study by the University of Indonesia's Demography Institute predicts 68,500 newcomers will arrive in Jakarta during this year's holiday exodus, up 34 percent from last year. The population of Jakarta presently stands at nearly 10 million.
Push and pull
Hartono Laras, director general for social development and poverty eradication at the Ministry of Social Services, blames regional administrations for the lack of firm action to curb urbanization – a longtime problem in Indonesia, which has uneven development between cities and rural areas.
"Regional administrations are very open and they don't prohibit people from migrating to cities," he said on Friday.
Hartono explained that as in previous years, the aftermath of Idul Fitri is expected to increase the population burden on big cities – and improving the situation will require effort from all parties.
Urbanization, Hartono said, could be attributed to two causes: the push factor – things that drive people to relocate – and the pull factor, which encourages people to move to a different area.
Hartono praised the passage of the Village Law earlier this year, under which development funds of between Rp 1 billion and Rp 1.4 billion must be channeled to every village in Indonesia – something he said could curb the push factor.
He added that the law is crucial for boosting village economy – particularly in the agricultural sector and small- to medium-size enterprises – and the creation of new jobs. In time, the law is hoped to slow the pace of urbanization, eventually reversing the trend and drawing people back to their villages, Hartono said.
The Social Service Ministry, meanwhile, claims to have been running programs intended to reduce urbanization – including the development of social infrastructure such as youth clubs as well as agricultural programs in villages.
"[The ministry] will try to give priority to village issues. We will conduct special activities and programs to persuade people to return to their villages," Hartono said.
Sociologist Bagong Suyanto at Airlangga University agrees that the lack of employment opportunities in other regions has grossly contributed to poverty and driven people to migrate to cities.
Bagong emphasized that as long as problems in villages – including the disparity of education and income with that of big cities – remain ignored, the flow of people from villages would continue. "Big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya are projected to receive around 100,000 newcomers per year," he said on Friday.
Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist at the University of Indonesia, pointed out a typical problem in villages:
"There is a lack of good jobs and decent facilities. Even if there were better jobs in villages, people would still think the jobs in big cities are much better," he told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
"We cannot ban people from coming to seek opportunity in the cities, but what we can do is provide new incentives to the cities [to compensate for the resulting social problems]," he said.
Imam added that if urbanization were to be banned somehow, the government would have no choice but to contribute to the economic development of small towns and villages.
"And if there are not many opportunities that can be created in small, marginalized villages, then big cities should form partnerships with smaller towns in order to create new economic hubs that will link to the villages," Imam said, explaining that major harbors can successfully be developed in districts while the main markets remain in large urban centers.