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Indonesian elites unite to restart Jakarta Bay reclamation

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta The central government is slowly putting together all the pieces of the puzzle needed to restart the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project, which has been halted since last year.

The Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister recently hosted a meeting with the relevant ministries that hold the keys to the future of the reclamation project, such as the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry had previously concluded that the project was mired in apparent maladministration after evaluating the project. The ministry later advised the Jakarta administration to suspend work on the project.

Meanwhile, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti had criticized the Jakarta administration's concept of developing the city through the reclamation project.

She said that the reclamation project, which involves the development of 17 man-made islets off the coast of North Jakarta, coupled with poor river management, would actually cause the capital to experience worse flooding.

Both ministers' comments came after many activists voiced their opposition to the project, saying it adversely affected the livelihood of fishermen, would cause flooding and disrupt operations of the coal-fired power plant in Muara Karang.

But after Thursday's meeting, the deputy of infrastructure coordination at the office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry, Ridwan Djamaludin, said the central government had finally reconciled their differing opinions on the project.

"After this meeting, we will discuss the technical issues and legal framework for this project," he said.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, which previously opposed the project, said on Thursday that the project should continue as the government would take measures to ensure fishermen's livelihoods would not be damaged by the project.

"Social aspects are very important. We need to make sure that fishermen can maintain their livelihoods," said the ministry's marine space management director-general, Brahmantya Satyamurti.

Among the actions to be taken is opening the National Fisheries Center of Muara Baru, which would have a fish market as well as a shopping and culinary center, he added.

As the central government shared a single perception of the project, Ridwan hinted that the government would continue the project, saying that it was an integral part of the NCICD (Integrated Coastal Development) project initiated to protect Jakarta Bay.

Despite the moratorium imposed on the project last year, Ridwan said the government had no intention of stopping the reclamation, arguing that the moratorium was only imposed to "adjust to the current conditions".

"We never stopped it [the reclamation project]. Instead, the Cabinet wanted it to be integrated with area development, coastal area protection and fishermen's sustainability," Ridwan said.

In February, the Jakarta administration also signaled that it would proceed with the project, saying that it had completed the necessary strategic environmental assessment (KLHS), which was required by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, so the project could go forward.

However, there are still questions regarding the future of the project, given that presumptive governor-elect Anies Baswedan has repeatedly said he would stop the reclamation project if he was elected.

Commenting on possible hurdles posed by the future city administration, Ridwan said the central government was certain it would be able to reach a compromise with Anies. "Anies is an educated person. If we take heart and [present] scientific data, we will find the solution," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/29/indonesian-elites-unite-to-restart-jakarta-bay-reclamation.html.

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