Jakarta – Squatters living along the banks of the West Flood Canal in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta know that they are not supposed to dwell in the area, but limited options have forced them to return again and again despite frequent and imminent evictions carried out by the Jakarta administration.
The administration has evicted people living in illegal dwellings in the area several times and plans are underway to clear the riverbank once again as squatters keep returning to occupy the space.
Tanah Abang district head Yassin Kurniawan said that targeted for eviction are families living along Jl. Tenaga Listrik and by the riverside in three subdistricts, namely Petamburan, Kebon Kacang and Kampung Bali.
"Most likely the execution will be conducted next week, probably July 15 or 16," he said on Wednesday as reported by tempo.co.
Yassin explained the city administration had sent out warning letters, asking the squatters to leave the location immediately.
During evictions, the city administration cooperates with the Public Works and Housing Ministry's Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Control Office, which is tasked with managing the Ciliwung River.
"There are some people who have been demolishing their own shacks. Probably there are only about 50 buildings left," he said, adding that as the administration had publicized the plan, the next step would be to tear down the buildings during the eviction.
Central Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) head Bernard Tambunan said his office was still waiting for a request from the district office regarding the eviction.
"We wait for request. We just implement the regulation on public order," he said in a press statement on Monday.
One of the people inhabiting the area, Warsini, said she had learned about the eviction plan through a letter delivered by the city administration.
The 45-year-old woman who sells snacks, noodles and coffee in the area said she did not have any other option but to leave, just like when she had experienced previous evictions.
However, Warsini said she would return, as evictions had become something "normal" for her and her neighbors. "If the situation is safe [after eviction], we will return here," she said.
Another squatter named Kartini said as the planned eviction had been announced two weeks ago, some of her neighbors had already left the location.
Similar to Warsini, the 60-year-old woman intended to return to the bank of the West Flood Canal after eviction, although she had to again rebuild her dwelling from scratch.
"Well, I have to make ends meet. We can escape the eviction. I don't have any other option. My source of income is in this location," she said as quoted by tempo.co.
Plenty of makeshift dwellings alongside the river had made the area to look like a slum with trash scattered around.
The city administration had evicted people from the area several times, most recently in 2017.
In addition to the illegal dwellings, Yassin added that he had received information alleging that prostitution commonly occurred in the area at night. "But I haven't found [the practice] as it might take place only at night," he said.
Warsini denied the allegations of prostitution in the area, saying that the majority of her neighbors were food and beverage vendors. "We are not selling haram [forbidden] things," she said. (sau)