Jakarta – A lack of sanitation facilities and space for a growing number of families has prompted some residents of Kampung Bengek in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, to live side by side with heaps of waste on a plot of land owned by a port operator, PT Pelindo II Indonesian Port Corporation (IPC).
On Wednesday up to 350 workers, mainly from the North Jakarta Public Facility Maintenance Agency (PPSU), were enlisted by North Jakarta Municipality to try clean up the trash on the land.
The kampung is located right on the coast, but had been closed off from the sea by a 5-meter-tall seawall. Some areas of the land are flooded and reeds grow in the water.
Residents said they have no choice but to dump and burn their household trash on the land as the PPSU workers and garbage trucks could not use the small alleyways leading to the kampung. The trucks mainly operate on the larger Jl. Muara Baru Raya.
"It's hard to dump waste [properly] here because garbage trucks cannot easily enter this kampung," M. Kosim, 58, Muara Baru, who lives near Kampung Bengek, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He said that each neighborhood unit (RT) in the area already had at least one large garbage bin, but to empty them residents must go all the way to Jl. Muara Baru Raya.
Instead, residents just dump their waste in the empty lot. They burn it but if it cannot be burned they leave it as is.
Despite living in the area since 1976 near the trash heaps, Kosim said he and his family of eight – his wife, five children and two grandchildren – had never fallen ill because of them.
Udin, 48, one of the residents living in the empty lot right next to the waste dump, also said that he and his family had never been sick, despite the garbage.
He said he lived in his shack since 1996 because after marrying he needed a space for his own family, even though his parents still live in the same area.
The Kampung Bengek land owned by Pelindo II had been walled off from neighboring homes, but someone had made a few holes in the wall and people gradually settled the area with shacks.
Residents living in Kampung Bengek, like Udin and his family, must buy clean water in gallon bottles and get their electricity by hooking up to their relatives' houses. For toilets they have dug pit latrines.
Admitting that he did not live on his own land, Udin said he would not mind being relocated elsewhere. "My wish is that we are offered a place to live," Udin said.
According to North Jakarta Mayor Sigit Wijatmoko, about 180 families live on the 24 hectares of land owned by Pelindo II in the so-called Kampung Bengek.
He said that as landowner Pelindo II was still mainly responsible for the situation of people living side by side with waste.
"So IPC should have a complete master plan [on the future use of the land] because they had used the plot but only partially," Sigit told the Post over the phone on Thursday.
Meanwhile, for the existing trash on the plot, Pelindo had two options, Sigit said, whether to clean up after themselves more regularly or have the Jakarta Environment Agency to clean it up at a fee.
The waste buildup on the plot are mainly household waste especially plastics or other waste that cannot be easily burned.
However, Sigit said that the source of the waste had yet to be determined: whether all of it was from the residents or from some other sources.
Previously, Pelindo II Sunda Kelapa Port general manager Reini Delfianti said the port authority had planned to use the land to expand Sunda Kelapa Port.
Meanwhile, the company and the North Jakarta municipality was still searching for a solution for the 180 families.
"We are still discussing where the current residents will go [after they leave Pelindo II's property]. IPC will definitely follow the existing regulations," Reini said on Wednesday, Warta Kota reported.