Jakarta – The Jakarta administration is back in the spotlight, this time inviting scrutiny over the revitalization of the National Monument (Monas) area in Central Jakarta, which includes uprooting more than 200 trees in the southern part of the complex.
Monas management unit head Isa Sanuri confirmed that 150 big trees and 55 small trees had been removed, but said many had been replanted in other parts of Monas, because the southern area would be turned into a plaza.
"We uprooted and replanted trees that are still strong and in good condition in the western part [of the Monas area]; we destroyed the old ones," he said on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
Referring to Monas' initial design, Jakarta Spatial Planning Agency head Heru Hermawanto said the southern part of the monument complex was to become a plaza instead of a park filled with trees. He insisted that the project was aimed at restoring the initial look of the square.
"If the area was indeed for trees then we wouldn't change a thing, but the initial design shows otherwise. It's a plaza, the trees were there temporarily," he said.
Amid criticism that the project would lessen green space in the polluted city, Heru maintained that the changes would not decrease the city's green open space.
Located in the heart of the capital, the Monas complex is among the top destinations for urbanites, be it for jogging or walking, gathering, taking photos or seeing the city from above from the monument.
The southern area, which was formerly filled with trees, is now barren land filled with heavy equipment and encircled by 2-meter high partitions to prevent people from entering.
The Monas revitalization project is carried out by PT Bahana Prima Nusantara, which won a tender and signed the contract in November.
City Council Commission D councilor Justin Adrian Untayana from the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) has questioned the credibility of the company.
According to PT Bahana Prima Nusantara's address at Jl. Nusa Indah in Ciracas, East Jakarta, the company was located in a residential area, he said.
"Our members in Ciracas have checked the place and said they didn't see any business activity there," he said, noting that the council might demand an explanation from the city administration.
The city has allocated Rp 149.9 billion (US$11 million) from the 2019 budget for the project, which took place simultaneously with a similar revitalization project in the Istiqlal Mosque area. The Jakarta administration aims to connect the areas of Monas, the mosque and the nearby Lapangan Banteng Park with decent sidewalks.
Soon, another project will take place in the same area, namely the construction of MRT Jakarta phase II to connect the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle with Ancol in North Jakarta. One of the stations reportedly will be located underneath Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat.
However, the State Secretariat revealed that the Monas revitalization was conducted without the consent of the Medan Merdeka Area Development Steering Committee, which is helmed by State Secretary Pratikno.
"The project has yet to obtain a permit," State Secretariat secretary Setya Utama said on Wednesday.
He went on to explain that the role of the steering committee, including granting permission for the revitalization of the Monas area, was mandated by Presidential Decree No. 25/1995 on the Medan Merdeka area development in the capital city.
Setya said Pratikno had yet to receive a project proposal, let alone sign any permit. He compared the Monas project with the MRT Jakarta phase II project, which has earned approval from the commission to build an underground station in the area.
"[The station will be located] in front of the Transportation Ministry office. The commission has issued the permit and provided some recommendations," he said.
House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani called on the Jakarta administration to preserve Monas as the iconic landmark of Indonesia. "Don't change Monas; restore it to its original version," she said on Wednesday. (vla)