A preventable tragedy in Jakarta?

Yang jadi pertanyaan: kenaikan perkembangan ekonomi sebesar 6% tapi tidak bisa mengatasi segala macam mismanagement. Kemana duit itu semua larinya ya?

Belum tentu desentralisasi itu baik, malahan kayaknya sekarang itu menyebarkankan korupsi ke daerah2 otonom karena pemda2 main kayu sak enaknya dewek.

Ceritanya banyak sudah kalau kaum investor mengincar Indonesia sebagai tujuan para investor tapi kenyataan dilapangan sangat berlainan.

Harry Adinegara

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A preventable tragedy in Jakarta?
By Seth Mydans

Friday, February 9, 2007

JAKARTA Over the past two years, Indonesia has suffered an encyclopedia of disasters: from the devastating tsunami of December 2004 to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, outbreaks of bird flu, landslides, airline crashes and a vast, bizarre geyser of mud — a constant pounding of catastrophes that have worn down the national psyche.

No common thread binds all these events, and some, like the tsunami that took 170,000 lives in the northern province of Aceh, were clearly beyond any human control. But others, like the deadly flood that has inundated Jakarta for the past week, reflect a failure of government, experts here say.

“This is as much a governance issue as a natural disaster,” said Douglas Ramage, the country director for the Asia Foundation.
A question now is whether political changes now under way in Indonesia aimed at holding government officials more accountable will encourage policies that might mitigate the damage from future calamities. The annual flooding of Jakarta could have been brought under control, as it has in Bangkok, with aggressive government action, experts say.

On Friday, officials said at least 50 people had died in the flood that at one point covered at least half the city. Many of the 340,000 people who filled makeshift shelters were returning home, although periodic showers slowed recovery. As the water receded, officials warned of rats, cockroaches and possible outbreaks of diarrhea, cholera and other diseases. The authorities said fire trucks would be spraying disinfectant in hard-hit areas.

Over the years, governments here have allowed the floods to continue to paralyze a city that still relies on canals and sluice gates that were built by the Dutch 160 years ago. The Jakarta governor, Sutiyoso, who goes by one name, has held office for a decade and has paid little political price for his inaction following a severe flood in 2002.

But Indonesia is now in the process of reconfiguring its democratic system, dispersing power from the center to local governments and instituting direct elections of government officials to make them more accountable.

“All over Indonesia as cities get to elect their mayors and provinces directly elect their heads, we are beginning to see more responsible government,” Ramage said.

This summer for the first time in its 450-year history, Jakarta will vote for a directly elected governor. The flood is expected to become an issue in the election. But the process of decentralization of power has brought short-term problems. With weaker central control, different levels of government and jurisdictions can now find themselves at odds.

“The proliferation of natural disasters in Indonesia and the difficulty of making an adequate timely response does illustrate the problems that occur when you pass power down to local constituencies,” said Donald Emmerson, an expert on Indonesia at Stanford University.

Trees are cut and housing developments are built without coordination on Jakarta’s outskirts, increasing the risk of flooding and straining urban services. And when a disaster strikes, systems of cooperation often have not been worked out.

An imbalance between private and public development is at the heart of the infrastructure problems in Jakarta and elsewhere, said Ramesh Subramaniam, principal economist at the Asian Development Bank in Indonesia.

“It is essentially a conflict between private consumption, which is going up, and public investment in infrastructure, which is almost stagnant,” he said.

As the economy grows at about 6 percent a year, with a proliferation of homes, offices and shopping centers, almost no new roads, bridges, airports, power lines or water systems have been built since the Asian economic crisis a decade ago.

“There is no question that the economy is growing now at a healthy clip,” Ramage said, “but the growth is going to bump smack up against infrastructure limitations.”

Because of complex regulations and legal uncertainties, there has been very little foreign investment in infrastructure in recent years. Two conferences in the past two years that offered nearly 100 projects to foreign investors produced no contracts.

“China has built more roads in the last year than Indonesia in the last 20 years,” said Jim Castle, chief executive of CastleAsia, a consultancy and research firm. “I think they have installed more telephones in six months than Indonesia has installed in 10 years.”

Indonesia is a victim of its geography, however, a volcanic archipelago spread across an earthquake zone, and its calamities will continue no matter how many improvements are made in infrastructure and governance.

After an earthquake that took more than 3,000 lives a year ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was asked by superstitious survivors what was causing their suffering. “I can tell you the reason,” he said, and paused. “It is caused by the shifting of the tectonic plates.”

Copyright © 2007 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com/

sumber: Harry Adinegara (sans_culotte_30@yahoo.com.au)