happy wheels

‘we are legal’ said Kampung Pulo residents

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Alat berat robohkan bangunan pertokoan yang berdiri sejak 1921 di Kampung Pulo, Jatinegara, Jakarta, 28 Agustus 2014. TEMPO/Dasril Roszandi
Alat berat robohkan bangunan pertokoan yang berdiri sejak 1921 di Kampung Pulo, Jatinegara, Jakarta, 28 Agustus 2014. TEMPO/Dasril Roszandi

Despite the claim of the Jakarta administration that all settlements on riverbanks are illegal, residents who live on the banks of the Ciliwung River in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, consider that they legally own their plots of land and buildings.

A public figure in Kampung Melayu, S. Soleh, known as Habib Soleh, said recently that most of the residents in his neighborhood, including his family, had been living there for years.

“My ownership document was verbonding, written in Dutch. I had it translated into Indonesian in 1983,” he said.

Soleh said that he had tried to upgrade the document into a land certificate in the 1990s when the government launched Prona, the national land certification program.

“Many residents in this kampung also did the same thing as they said it was free,” he said.

He said, however, that only one or two residents eventually had documents turned into land certificates.

Soleh said most of the residents were unfamiliar with legal steps. “Hence, many of them did not continue their efforts after the program ended,” he said, adding that the process did in fact cost money.

Vera Soemarwi, a legal team member at Ciliwung Merdeka, an organization that helps empower residents on Ciliwung riverbanks, said her team recorded that most of the residents living on riverbanks in Kampung Melayu who would be affected by the river normalization project had documents proving that they rightfully owned the land plots and their buildings.

Vera said the documents varied from land certificates to girik (customary land appointments), verbonding, purchase agreements, building use permits (HGB), building ownership statements, house purchasing statements and other documents.

All the documents could be upgraded to a more legally binding land certificate, but many residents find the cost astronomical or are not well-versed in the long legal procedure to upgrade a document’s status.

Vera said that out of 2.5 hectares set to be affected by the project, most residents had some documentation and only those on 0.8 hectares did not have any documents. “The remaining 1.7 hectares have documents in various forms,” she said.

Vera said it did not actually matter if some residents lacked documents as Kampung Pulo was tanah adat (customary land).

According to her, the city administration cannot take residents’ land or destroy their houses without paying any compensation.

Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) lawyer Handika Febrian said the documents were legal proof of people’s rights to their land and buildings. “They cannot be labeled squatters,” he said.

Handika said the city administration should prove in court that the residents were illegal before naming them squatters.

“Law No. 2/2012 on land procurement for public needs also obliges the government to discuss the plan first with residents before doing anything regarding evictions,” he said.

Handika said the city administration often misused land certificates as the sole proof of ownership. “The Agrarian Law stipulates that other documents can also be used as the proof of ownership,” he said.

Jatinegara district head Sofyan Taher reiterated that residents without land certificates or girik would not get any compensation.

“They will only get the right to rent at the East Jatinegara low-cost apartments. The first three months of rent will be free,” he said. (thejakartapost.com)

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