The new Jakarta administration should put the cancellation of the reclamation project in its 100-day agenda. After all, that is one of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno’s top campaign pledge. They have to show the public that their commitment to scrap the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project was not just an election gimmick.
Showing any sign of being in favor of the reclamation project- as reflected in the statement of M. Taufik from Gerindra, the party which nominated the governor-elect, last week- Anies-Sandi can be suspected of backtracking from their promise, and start siding with the reclamation developers. Quoted by many media, Taufik reportedly said that as long as rules were not broken, the project was still open to discussion.
Up to now, the most serious offence perpetrated by developers in the reclamation project is constructing buildings without permit on the islets C and D. To make his point, Anies should promptly tear down the illegal buildings- mostly shop-houses worth hundreds of billions of rupiah- as the authority to issue building permits (IMB) lies with the provincial government. Moreover, the provincial government must immediately discuss the draft regional regulation on the zoning plan for the coastal areas and small islands with the regional house of representatives.
However, the deliberation should not endorse the three reclaimed islands as housing and commercial zone as it is now, but transform them into public space, conservation areas and city forests. The suggestion to destroy the already-erected islands is not a realistic one. Demolishing mounds of sand will only damage the environment. Meanwhile, the plan for other islets must be nullified by the provincial government.
The law on management of the coastal areas and small islands requires provinces to issue regional regulation on zoning plan. The regulation is a tool to maintain balance within various parts of coastal areas through protection and conservation and to improve the welfare of the local people. Moreover, the regulation also gives legal certainty and protection for the coastal waters.
In short, the reclamation project was flawed from the start. The main purpose to backfill the Jakarta Bay area, as regulated in the coastal area and small islands management law, should be to benefit the local stakeholders: fishermen, fish farmers, tourism and fisheries businesses and the communities in general. But in practice, fishermen are disadvantaged instead.
The Jokowi administration has in fact taken a decent way out of the issue that became a hot potato during the Jakarta gubernatorial election by enforcing a moratorium on the project. But, alas, as the tenure of Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat was about to end, the central government via the environment and forestry ministry suddenly lifted the moratorium. The initial plan to incorporate the reclamation project as an integral part in the national capital integrated coastal development (NCICD) – or the giant sea wall- was abandoned without explanation. The revocation came before the national development planning agency completed its assessment on the NCICD.
Oddly enough, even during the moratorium period, construction activities continued without the IMB, while the environment and forestry ministry, seemingly intimidated by the powerful developers, turned a blind eye. Those involved in the neglect and collusion should not be allowed to get away without sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Jakarta provincial government readily agreed to the taxable sales value of just Rp3.1 million per square meter for the islets- far below the prevailing rate which hovers above Rp10 million. All these discrepancies sparked suspicions as well as a question as to whether the government prefers to benefit the public or just a handful of investors.
Now, Governor Anies Baswedan must not backpedal on his words. He must immediately repeal the permit issued by former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. He need not lose sleep over this as decrees can be withdrawn if the implementation does not fulfill requirements, or are in clash with the laws. Likewise, permits can be revoked if they are acquired through the provision of incorrect or incomplete data- which the developers allegedly did.
Public lies surrounding this issue must be put to an end. The government must stop favoring developers. President Jokowi must not allow justice to be trampled by rogue officials and a handful of businessmen who are only motivated by self-interest.