As the largest metropolis in South-east Asia, Jakarta is faced with severe housing problems both in quantity and quality. What account for these? And how can Jakarta survive?
Housing for common people in Jakarta remains an unsolved problem. The lack of housing, bad conditions of current shelters and terrible consequences of uneven housing distribution, are threatening the daily life of Jakartans.
To newlywed Hita Arthati, 27, ownership of a house in the capital is as reachable as the stars given soaring prices. “It is very difficult to buy a house in Jakarta. They are very expensive,” Hita said, chuckling. However, even in the outermost areas of the city, new houses are offered at unaffordable prices.
High selling prices for these houses come from high land prices and high licensing fees. Meanwhile, the prices of homes cannot be too high because they are restricted by the government. Thus, the profit margin for low-income housing is not so high so that developers who enter this low-cost housing market are limited.
Moreover, access roads and electricity networks are still inadequate in many areas in Indonesia. This lack of settlement-related infrastructure increase building fees therefore lead to unaffordable prices.
Furthermore, low-income people, who usually earn a living in the informal sector, are generally not eligible to apply for housing credit. This obviously makes it difficult for them to buy homes.
All these factors combined, many Jakartans can only fulfill their housing needs in informal or self-help based urban kampung spread among the capital’s high rise buildings. Dwellings in many of these areas have now been demolished and their owners evicted for various reasons ranging from flood mitigation, public order to tourism.
The Jakarta Housing and Administrative Buildings Agency has recorded 392 community units across the capital considered to be slum areas. The agency also points out that almost 50 percent of the capital's population of 10 million are classified as low-income or poor.
Therefore, though one or two houses are in decent shape, most of the remaining houses in the slum area are tiny and shabby, with some houses sheltering more than one family. The open drains are clogged with household waste trapping sewage unable to flow to a proper sewerage system.
When the rainy season comes and heavy rains fall, the area will be flooded, the worst is up to an adult's thigh. When that happened, sickness began to appear.
Less than 50 percent of Jakarta's residents have access to piped water, according to the NGO, which runs water, sanitation and health programmes in the city.
More than 75 percent of the city's residents rely on shallow groundwater, but an official study found that 90 percent of shallow wells are contaminated with coliform bacteria or heavy metals, Mercy Corps said in a 2008 publication entitled Urban Poverty Reduction Strategy. Jakarta produces 6,000 tons of waste each day, but can only manage 50 percent of it, it said.
Actually the causes of Jakarta’s housing problem exist in lots of fields.
Geographically, Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of Java, at the mouth of an inlet of the Java Sea. Lying in a low, flat basin, ranged from −2 to 50 metres with average elevation 8 meters above sea level, 40% of Jakarta, particularly the northern areas, is below sea level. To make matter’s worse, Jakarta is sinking about 5 to 10 centimeters each year, even up to 20 centimeters in the northern coastal areas.
Jakarta has a tropical monsoon climate. The city has distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season in Jakarta covers the majority of the year. Jakarta's wet season rainfall peak is January and February, with average monthly rainfall of 299.7 millimetres, and its dry season low point is August, with a monthly average of 43.2 mm. There are several rivers in Jakarta, including Ciliwung River, the Pesanggrahan, and Sunter, most of which are prone to be flooded by the heavy rain. This no doubt contributes to the terrible living environment and the danger of living in informal houses like kampung.
Moreover, the high population of Jakarta is another problem to be dealt with. As one of the most populous urban agglomerations on earth, the city has a very high population density of 14,464 people per square kilometer, while the metro area has a density of 4,383 people/sq km. Such density leads to lack of accommodation and uncomfortable living environment.
However, Jakarta's business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over Indonesia. Since 1950 Jakarta has attracted people from all parts of Java and other Indonesian islands. The census 1961 showed that only 51% of the city’s populations were actually born in Jakarta. Between 1961 and 1980, the population of Jakarta doubled and during the period 1980-1990, the city's population grew annually by 3.7%. And Jakarta is home to people of many religions. As of 2010 Census the population of Jakarta was 85.36% Muslim, 7.53% Protestant, 3.30% Buddhist, 3.15% Roman Catholic, 0.21% Hindu, and 0.06% Confucianist. The majority of Jakartan are Sunni Muslims. Muslim tend to have plenty of kids because of their belief, which accelerates the growth of population in Jakarta.
According to this situation, the lack of houses may become a normal state in Jakarta.
Economically, Indonesia is a developing country. As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta's economy depends highly on service sectors, banking, trading, financial service, and manufacturing. With the growth of economy and the city, the needs of new office and commercial buildings is increasing. The cost of living in the city continues to rise. Land is expensive and rents are high. Many Jakartans have to fulfill their housing needs in informal or self-help based urban kampung spreading among the capital’s high rise buildings. As to construct the city, dwellings in many of these areas have to be demolished.
The social welfare is obviously not enough for everyone. Families suffered from the demolition and unemployment move to the rusunawa as most cannot maintain their income with the rent and bills they now have to pay. And the city administration seems to forget is that residents who work in the informal sector like street vendors or small-scale industry build homes not only for living but also for producing. For example, Mutia, a mother of two who now lives in a Jatinegara Barat low-cost apartment in East Jakarta after being relocated from nearby Kampung Pulo, said that she could not sell chicken nuggets anymore as she could not open a stall from her apartment.
Government didn’t sit by. Several strategies have been applied to improving the living conditions of people, especially those with low incomes.
To deal with the high land price, the government began the 1 million houses program in 2015. This program is meant to set affordable subsidized home prices with very low installments (only 1 percent of the house price) and make them free of value added taxes (VAT).
Moreover, through the 13th economic policy package, the government has simplified the number of permits and their timing for the construction of low-income housing. By removing or reducing the variety of licensing and recommendations originally needed. Therefore, the subtraction, merging and acceleration of the licensing process for low-income housing will reduce licensing costs by up to 70 percent.
To accelerate the construction of settlement-related infrastructure, the government has designated 30 infrastructure projects worth Rp 851 trillion (US$ 65.5 billion) to be priority projects from 2016 to 2019.
Through the FLPP, which began in 2010, the government provides low interest on housing loans for communities with a maximum income of Rp 4.5 million per month, and the number will steadily increase as the project goes on.
Building low-cost apartments, launching loan programs and reducing the rent and the tax, the government is trying solving the problem with political or economical methods. However, there is still more problems waiting than already solved ones.
Current conditions of kampungs are the concentrated expressions of the severe housing problems in Jakarta. They are always considered to be the stones to slow down Jakarta’s development. Maybe it’s time for villagers in the kampungs to benefits the city, too.
An evictee from the red-light district Kalijodo in West Jakarta once says “The bed is more comfortable in new houses, but I don’t come to Jakarta to sleep in a comfortable bed. I come to make money.” Residents from kampungs, they are producing and living at the same place. The community is not only their shelters, but also their factories, stores, and tools to make a living. A mutually beneficial pattern in kampungs is needed now. The city need to provide not only the places to live in, but opportunities to make money. In return, kampungs should help themselves to make the communities more flexible and more progressive, more beneficial for the larger society.
Slums exists for reasons. Kampungs need to evolve to be more economically friendly and more adapted to the pace of developing Indonesia. Thus, new home for both people and city itself can be reborn at the same time.