No. 24/VIII/February 12-18, 2008
–> So that Victims Don’t Leave
Lapindo tries to persuade mudflow disaster victims to relocate, bringing land brokers to the scene.
An old friend of Sumitro’s visited him at his boarding house in Sawotratap, Sidoarjo, in East Java. Although they were once neighbors, it has been some months since they have seen each other. Previously they lived at the Tanggulangin Anggun Sejahtera I housing complex in Sidoarjo. The housing complex is now buried in mud from Lapindo.After chatting and exchanging funny stories, out of the blue the old friend tried to persuade his host to accept relocation to a new residential area. This would mean that Sumitro would not need to wait to be paid compensation in cash, which Lapindo will not be doing until next May. “According to my friend, the process would be faster,” Sumitro told Tempo.
Through Presidential Regulation No. 14/2007, the government ordered Lapindo to pay 20 percent of the value of financial damages incurred by mudflow victims in November last year. The company must put aside some Rp3.8 trillion, Rp2.5 trillion of which is to compensate for damage to local people’s homes and land and the remainder to plug the mud outpour.
Out of the Rp2.5 trillion set aside for residents, so far Lapindo has only disbursed Rp500 billion. The remainder—in accordance with the presidential regulation—must be paid by next May at the latest. It is this money that will be received by Sumitro and the other victims. In the midst of this wait land brokers have begun appearing on the scene.
They are also victims of the mudflow disaster, who early on accepted payments through a relocation mechanism, including among others, Sumitro’s old friend. They have been actively “waging guerrilla warfare” at the temporary housing sites occupied by mudflow victims. The bonus provided by Lapindo to the land brokers could be regarded as quite good: Rp700,000 for each person that they can net and accept the relocation offer.
In January, Lapindo held a gathering of some 800 mudflow disaster victims at the Shangri-La Hotel in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya. They were persuaded to state that they would reject compensation in the form of cash. By way of compensation, they were asked to sign house transaction agreements with Lapindo. The new houses would be ready for occupation six months after signing the agreement.
According to Nurul Huda, the coordinator of the mudflow disaster victims from Jatirejo village, Lapindo maneuvers are making things difficult for others. Because, says Nurul, there are still 149 mudflow victims whose land and home ownership documents have been verified but who have yet to receive the 20 percent compensation. They should have received it in November last year.
A Tempo source assisting Lapindo mudflow victims suggested that Lapindo does indeed prefer to relocate the victims. With this in mind the company has gone ahead and built its own housing complex. In this way the compensation money will not fall into the hands of another business group. “Moreover, coming up with Rp2 trillion compensation in cash isn’t easy,” they said.
Lapindo has already built a residential site for relocated victims, which will be open to the general public. The area has been given the name Kahuripan Nirwana Village and is located at Sukodono, Sidoarjo. According to Andi Darusallam Tabusalla, the Vice President of PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya, the company that bankrolled the deal, Lapindo brought in the developer PT Wahana Artha Raya to carry out the construction. It turns out that the company is part of the Bakrie business group.
Indeed, right from the start Lapindo has insisted on relocating the mudflow victims to the area referred to by Andi as “New Sidoarjo,” rather than pay compensation for their land and homes. According to Andi, the relocation represents “an alternative solution for residents to obtain a decent life.” The Sidoarjo Regional House of Representatives Special Mud Committee also supports the concept of resettlement.
According to the Special Committee, relocation represents an effort to prevent the mudflow victims from buying homes far from Sidoarjo. “How can they, after receiving compensation, still go and buy homes outside of Sidoarjo,” said Special Committee Chair Khoirul Anam. Sidoarjo Regent Win Hendrarso also agrees with relocating the victims. “I have asked the mudflow victims not to leave Sidoarjo,” he said.
Sunudyantoro, Fatkhurrohman Taufiq (Surabaya)