Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has covered a river so polluted it got the nickname kali item (black river) with a giant black nylon net amid concerns it would be an eyesore and too smelly for foreign athletes during the Asian Games.
Supriyono, an official with the Jakarta Water Resources Agency, said they needed to cover the river, as it passed the newly built athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.
"We covered it, so that the dark, polluted water will be hidden from the view of international athletes," he said, as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday, adding that the effort was also expected to reduce the unpleasant smell emerging from the river.
The black netting will cover the entire length of the river, according to Supriyono.
During a visit to the athletes village in February, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan noticed the smell from the river and agreed to find a way to make it less smelly.
The administration has used aerators and nano bubble technology to clean the river, but to no avail.
The river, which is officially called the Sentiong River, is heavily polluted with domestic waste thrown into adjacent reservoirs, according to the city's environment agency. The river also does not flow very well, the agency said, as quoted by kompas.com.
The city's decision has sparked some negative responses from the public.
One twitter user wrote: "Hallo @aniesbaswedan and @sandiuno, if there's a dirty and smelly river, clean it up, don't hide it under black cover. Why are you so fond of hiding the rottens?"
"You're not trash collectors, aren't you?"
"Kali item uses a niqab, afraid that its aurat will be seen by the guests of Asian Games. #sorrynotmuhrim," wrote another Twitter user. [niqab – a full face veil, aurat – parts of a woman's body that should not be seen in public as stipulated by Islam – JB.]
Another user is more cynical, writing: "Kali Item – instead of being cleaned up, it's covered with black nets. This is a lazy thought. Looks good on the outside, but rotten inside."
The Asian Games will commence on Aug. 18 and run until Sept. 2. (ahw/rfa)