Jakarta coastal residents face clean water crisis

The residents of Marunda Kepu Fisherman’s Village, Cilincing District, North Jakarta, have been facing a clean water crisis for months, since when their supply of clean water from PT Aetra Air Jakarta’s pipes was disrupted in end April because improvement works damaged the existing piping network.

Water barrels used by residents to collect clean water from PAM Jaya. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

Each morning, residents, who are still paying their water bills every month, are in a queue with jerry cans, buckets and pails, waiting for the water trucks to come. Without a steady supply of clean water, there are also health risks, especially to vulnerable groups like the elderly, sick, women and children.

A woman carries a pail of clean water home. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

Eva, a 50-year-old resident, told Maritime Fairtrade: “Without a regular supply of clean water, it is hard to bathe, cook and wash.” At the designated water collection point at the main road, she had to scoop clean water from a big barrel to a small pail and carried it home. She also had to jostle with other residents when PAM Jaya, the city-owned water provider, sent water trucks to fill up the barrels.

“Since Idul Fitri in May, at least 280 families are affected. It has been six months already and we are still facing a lack of clean water. Now, we have to wait for the water trucks to come every two days. Even then, sometimes, I do not get clean water for three days in a row,” Eva said.

A resident transfers water to a big container for daily needs. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

Agustina, a 46-year-old resident, said water trucks used to arrive every day but during the last month, they only came every two days. “PAM Jaya initially promised four tanks of water per day. After a new president director came on board, he promised another four additional tanks, therefore, we expected eight tanks per day. But none came. And from then on, the water trucks only came every two days,” she said.

A resident with two jerry cans of water. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

Even though the residents are already paying water bills every month to PT Aetra Air Jakarta, they still have to fork out an additional IDR 3,000 (US$0.20) to buy two jerry cans of clean water.

Limba, a 31-year-old resident and mother of three children, was not happy she has to pay IDR 50,000 to PT Aetra Air Jakarta when she cannot get regular clean water from the pipes. She was forced to ration her water so that she has enough for her children’s need. She said the relevant authorities have to take responsibility. Habiba, a 40-year-old resident, agreed and hoped to see clean water flowing freely from taps soon.

A resident washes utensil. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

The clean water crisis has been ongoing for six months and it is a failure on the part of the government. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) DKI Jakarta said the government failed the people by not fulfiling the right of every citizen to adequate, safe, and accessible water. 

“The government should not involve the private sector to provide clean water to the public. This is an inappropriate policy.  The government must improve the quality of water services by immediately taking over the provision of clean water from the private sector in Jakarta according to the constitutional mandate,” said Suci F. Tanjung, director of DKI Jakarta Walhi.

PAM Jaya constructing water tub and pump. Photo credit: PAM Jaya

PAM Jaya’s president director, Arief Nasrudin, promised to improve water services in Marunda Kepu by starting the construction in October of a water transfer storage tub and pump, scheduled for completion in December, to increase pressure so water can flow faster and further.

Arief explained the new tub will have a capacity of 18.6 m3 with a pump capacity of up to five liters per second which will be placed before the East Flood Canal. He also said PAM Jaya had installed a master meter in July 2017 to serve the residents of Marunda Kepu, however, since then there was an increase in water demand which must now be met.

A woman carries a pail of clean water home. Photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani

Top photo credit: Iqbal Ramdhani. A mother bathing her child with water from a barrel.

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