A fisherman photographed with Island G in the background in North Jakarta on Thursday (27/09). Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's surprise announcement a day earlier that he was revoking permits for 13 reclamation islands in Jakarta Bay has forced property developers working on the projects to reconsider their plans. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Plans Change, Legal Battles Await as Jakarta Halts 13 Reclamation Projects


SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's surprise announcement on Wednesday (26/09) that he was revoking permits for 13 reclamation islands in the Jakarta Bay area has forced property developers working on the projects to reconsider their plans.

Anies said these companies were not complying with permit conditions. "Based on the North Coast Management Coordinating Board's recommendations, we decided to order a halt to the development of 13 islands," he said, referring to the body he established to evaluate the massive reclamation project.

The governor did not provide specific details of which permit conditions the developers had failed to comply with. However, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said earlier this month that some of the companies had to update their environmental permits in coordination with state-owned utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and state energy firm Pertamina, which operate a power plant and a gas line nearby.

Pembangunan Jaya Ancol, the theme park developer controlled by the Jakarta provincial government, is one of affected companies. It planned to build a theme park, Dufan Ocean, on one of the reclaimed islands.

"As a state-owned enterprise, we submit and obey the rules. But we have not been able to obtain any further explanation because it is still being studied by management," said Rika Lestari, corporate communication manager at Jaya Ancol.

Other developers that have had their permits withdrawn include Kapuk Naga Indah, a subsidiary of property giant Agung Sedayu Group, which works on islands A, B and E; Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro), a property developer controlled by the Jakarta provincial government (islands O and F); Taman Harapan Indah (Island H); Jaladri Kartika Paksi, which cooperates with Jaya Ancol on Island I; Manggala Krida Yudha (Island M); and KEK Marunda Jakarta (islands P and Q).

These companies' permits were all approved by then-Governor Fauzi Bowo, just days before he left office in 2012. There are 17 islands under development just off the coast, north of the capital.

Although Anies had promised during his gubernatorial campaign last year to stop the reclamation project, the timing of his announcement has shocked many stakeholders.

"The Jakarta provincial government must also come up with plans for the sustainable use of these islands," said Nirwono Joga, an urban planning expert at Trisakti University. "It is clearly impossible to destroy those reclaimed islands."

Nirwono said there was also the possibility that the developers, some of whom have already sold properties to investors, may sue the government.

However, Anies was unfazed, saying the provincial government was prepared for any legal repercussions. "Any citizen has equal rights before the law. We are ready [to oppose them in court]," he said.

Agung Podomoro

Agung Podomoro Land, which has two of its three reclamation projects affected by the decision, said it would study the impact.

But at least this decision means that Island G, on which Agung Podomoro will build Pluit City, an integrated property complex, "will continue development and have its spatial plan and designation regulated [by the government]," Agung Podomoro corporate secretary F. Justini Omas said on Thursday.

The company, through its subsidiary Muara Wisesa Samudra, has halted the development of Island G in 2016 after the Ministry of Environment and Forestry sanctioned it to rework its environmental impact analysis permit.

Although that sanction was lifted last year, Agung Podomoro has yet to continue with the work.

"We will wait for further direction from the government and we believe the government maintains a good investment climate," Justini said.

Still, Anies's decision could also affect Agung Podomoro's two other projects.

Justini said the company's investment arm, Agung Dinamika Perkasa, is cooperating with Jakpro on the development of Island F.

Agung Podomoro also controls Jaladri Kartika Paksi, which has a permit to develop Island I in cooperation with Jaya Ancol.

"We will give an update on Island I once we receive and study the governor's decision. We will also review our cooperation with Jakpro," Justini said.