Developer-driven reclamation leaves public behind
Land reclamation in North Jakarta has picked up pace under the leadership of Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama with construction permits for at least four more man-made islets issued in addition to one granted under former governor Fauzi Bowo. Unlike government-led reclamation in Singapore, Japan and the Netherlands, the project in Jakarta is mostly a private matter and few people know the details of the project or what benefits they stand to get from the islets. The Jakarta Post‘s Corry Elyda, Dewanti A. Wardhani and Evi Mariani take a closer look at North Jakarta’s reclamation project.
With a combined 5,155 hectares of new land ‘ about half the area of Bogor city ‘ the project of 17 manmade islets is the biggest reclamation in the history of Jakarta ‘ and so far the most controversial. Initiated during the New Order regime in 1995, the plan had been on and off, jeopardized by an economic crisis in 1997, supported and criticized and taken to court in the past 20 years.
After lying dormant for more than a decade, it got a new lease of life under Fauzi Bowo’s administration, which included the 17 islets in the giant project now called the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development ( NCICD ), better known as the giant sea wall that will close
Jakarta Bay. This year, however, the 17 islet reclamation project has been formally separated from the NCICD and the Jakarta administration has taken over the whole organization of the reclamation, leaving behind the national government and the NCICD.
In 2010, Fauzi issued the first construction permit for PT Kapuk Naga Indah ( KNI ), a subsidiary of Agung Sedayu Group, to build Islet D, which has been marketed as Golf Island, an extension of gated community Pantai Indah Kapuk connected with the city by a bridge of about 300 meters.
Golf Island is to become a residential area for upper-income residents, at least if property prices are any indication. According to a price list obtained by the Post in October last year, a 90-square-meter house on a 128-sqm plot of land on Golf Island is tagged at Rp 3.77 billion ( US$278,000 ), which is at about Rp 30 million per sqm.
According to Google Earth’s history of satellite imaging, the island started to appear as a dot in September 2012 and was completed by March 2015. The whole process is strictly private, and the public, including fisherman living nearby, have never been informed about it.
Also according to Google Earth imaging on March 17, 2015, there was an island next to Golf Island, Islet C, marketed as Riverwalk Island by KNI. Islet C was planned and constructed by the same developer as Islet D, and work was carried out in much the same manner, with very few people knowing about the project. The Post has attempted to obtain a copy of the construction permit of Islet C from city officials for months, but to no avail. Numerous attempts by the Post to contact KNI have gone unanswered.
What little the public knows about the reclamation of 17 islets, it knows from publicly listed developer Agung Podomoro Land ( APL ), which has been building Islet G, marketed as Pluit City. On Dec. 23, 2014, Ahok issued a construction permit for Islet G, about a month after he was installed as governor. It was the first construction permit for islets Ahok issued and last year he issued another three: Islet F for city-owned PT Jakarta Propertindo and Islet I for PT Jaladri Eka Pakci on Oct. 22 and Islet K for PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol on Nov. 17.
The Post has been unable to establish whether the construction permit for Islet C, which is half built, was issued by Ahok or by Fauzi.
In total nine companies, seven of them developers, are involved in the project.
The recently installed Deputy Governor for spatial planning and environment, Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa, said the man-made islets were planned to be an independent element that would not burden the mainland.
Urban experts, however, have raised questions as to whether the planning was independent or disconnected from the mainland, and whether not becoming a burden also means not offering any benefits to Jakarta as a whole.
Suryono Herlambang, urban planning expert at Tarumanagara University, said the developers might plan to build some beautiful public space for ‘waterfront city’ as stipulated in the bylaw draft on northern coastal zoning. ‘But Ancol beach is also beautiful. The question is, will they guarantee that it will be open to the public?’ Herlambang asked. To enter Ancol, an individual has to pay Rp 25,000 at the gate and an additional Rp 15,000 for a motorcycle and Rp 20,000 for a car. By contrast, he said, Losari Beach in Makassar in South Sulawesi did not charge visitors.
Agung Podomoro Land’s President Director Ariesman Widjaja told the Post that the public would be welcome to Pluit City. ‘Everyone is welcome, but of course there will be some rules,’ he said.
Herlambang said there was nothing wrong with reclamation itself, but the question people should ask was whether it gives any benefits to Jakarta in general. ‘Singapore did it because it wanted to focus on the mainland for housing and allocated the reclaimed land for recreational purposes. If Jakarta wants to build more land, it should have reduced the burden of development on the mainland, but that is not happening. I saw the bylaw on the detailed spatial planning and the administration planned to increase the density in the mainland as well.’
The bylaw draft on the reclamation zoning stipulates that the islands would be divided into three areas: the West Zone, consisting of islets A through H, used mainly for housing, the Central Zone, islets I through M, will be a commercial area, and the East Zone, with islets N through Q, will be for logistics and seaports and airports.
Ahok said the city administration had asked the developers to give 5 percent of their respective islet to the administration.
Oswar said the islets would be 30 percent green areas and there would be housing for low-income people. He said for Golf Island, the city administration planned to build low-cost rental apartments for workers supporting the community there.
The head of the Indonesian Association of Regional and Urban Planners ( IAP ), Bernardus Djonoputro, said such large-scale reclamation should have been done by the government and followed the principles stipulated in the 2007 spatial planning law. The law says that planning has to follow several principles including openness, integrated planning, togetherness, partnership and justice.
From what the public could see so far, however, the planning seemed to promote exclusive and gated community living, Bernardus said. ‘If the city administration does not get involved with the planning of the islets, the administration would only become the guardians of the gated communities. The administration has to plan for living space that is inclusive,’ he said.
‘If it is only a massive, giant gated community, it will show that Jakarta has conducted a mediocre planning process, it doesn’t demonstrate any world class manner and the project is nothing we can be proud of,’ Bernardus said.