Some of the residents of Jakarta’s red-light district, Kalijodo in North and West Jakarta, have started packing their belongings and closing their shops following the first warning letter issued by the city administration telling them to move out in accordance with the shutdown plan for the infamous area.
Despite complying with the city, some residents condemned the issuance of the letter as instructed by Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on Thursday.
The first warning letter states that residents must empty their buildings within seven days and if they fail to do so, the city administration will tear down the buildings.
“What should we eat now? Ahok wants us to eat rocks!” a middle-aged woman in the area angrily told thejakartapost.com.
Another resident, who owns a shop, also criticized the shutdown.
“If we are relocated, what can we do?” said the shop owner, who asked for anonymity fearing police might arrest her, adding that she had never been bothered by Kalijodo’s image as a prostitution and gambling hotspot.
In the past four days, several local bars have shuttered their businesses. Prostitutes and their pimps have been lying low amid the controversy.
The plan to shut down Kalijodo arose following a fatal drunk-driving accident earlier this month that left four people dead. The driver allegedly admitted to the police that he and his friends had been drinking in Kalijodo prior to the crash.
Kalijodo residents’ attorney Razman Arif Nasution slammed Ahok for issuing the warning letter to the residents.
“What does Ahok think these people are? Animals? People have lived here since before Ahok was born,” he said.
However, despite the protests, many residents have registered themselves to live in the low-cost apartments provided by the city administration.
The city is providing the accommodation for the relocation of residents who have Jakarta identity cards, while the city will help non-Jakarta citizens to return to their hometowns.
There are at least 1,600 families of Jakarta origin living in Kalijodo as listed by the Jakarta administration, there are no data on the number of people from out of town living in the area.
Separately, The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham) slammed Ahok for setting an unreasonable deadline for the residents to leave Kalijodo.
After the first warning, the city administration gives the residents another four days making a total of 11 days to clear the area.
Komnas HAM commissioner Siane Indriani urged the city administration to adopt a humane approach in the clearance plan despite agreeing with the crackdown on prostitution, gambling and the illegal alcohol trade.
“Ahok can’t just simply accuse residents of violating the law and expel them with an unreasonable deadline,” she said on Wednesday.
Siane acknowledged that Ahok’s administration had plans to turn the area into an open green space, but it could not be done hastily.
“It’s unfair to the residents that they don’t have enough time to prepare for the continuation of their lives,” Siane added.
Deputy chairman of Jakarta City Council Mohamad Taufik doubted that the city would carry out the shutdown in 11 days time and urged dialogue to prevent any unnecessary problems. (rin)