Stevani Wijaya, Jakarta – A joint team of the National Police and the Customs Directorate raided a number of shops and warehouses in Jakarta and neighboring Bekasi on Monday to seize imported used clothes in the first concrete action since President Joko Widodo ordered a crackdown on secondhand clothing imports last week.
The team conducted a search in at least nine shops at Senen Market, a popular place for thrifting, and a warehouse on nearby Jalan Kramat.
"The operation is a follow-up of President Joko Widodo's directive to the National Police chief regarding used clothing imports," Brig. Gen. Whisnu Hermawan, the director of the police's special economic crime division, said in a statement.
The team seized 513 bales of used clothes from the nine shops and another 600 bales from the rented warehouse, he added.
In a separate raid in Bekasi, the joint team confiscated 1,000 bales of used clothes from two warehouses on Jalan Samudera Jaya.
Used clothing imports are banned under a trade minister's regulation to protect the domestic textile industry and prevent severe health consequences that come with unhygienic goods.
But the used clothing trade remains popular, especially in big cities like Jakarta, where used cloth and footwear shops are traded openly at public markets.
Last week, the president ordered stern measures against used clothing imports that according to him did serious damage to the already struggling domestic textile industry.
Iwan Setiawan Lukminto, the chief executive officer of textile giant Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex), said that Indonesia could end up a waste dump unless used clothing imports are banned entirely.
Used clothes coming into Indonesia are "literally rubbish of no value" but somehow manage to find their way into local shops, Iwan said.
"Other countries dump used clothes for free and yet they have a value here. This is wrong. If they arrived here to be demolished or recycled, that would be a different story," he said.