Saturday, September 30, 2023

Jokowi Assures Rempang Islanders of Land and Homes for Relocation

Moh. Said Mashur
September 12, 2023 | 10:49 pm
FILE - Riot police stand guard in front of angry residents who oppose relocation from their homes on Rempang Island in Riau Islands province, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. (Antara Photo/Teguh Prihatna)
FILE - Riot police stand guard in front of angry residents who oppose relocation from their homes on Rempang Island in Riau Islands province, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. (Antara Photo/Teguh Prihatna)

Cilegon. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed concerns on Tuesday regarding the recent clash between law enforcement personnel and residents of Rempang Island, who opposed to their forced relocation for a government project.

President Jokowi said the incident should have been avoided, as the affected islanders were assured of receiving land and new houses as part of the relocation plan.

He blamed the incident on a breakdown in communication between local authorities and the island's residents.

"There is an existing agreement stipulating that each family will receive 500 square meters of land and a 45-square-meter house. Unfortunately, this information was not effectively conveyed, leading to the recent incident," the president said during a visit to Cilegon, Banten province.


He added that Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia would be dispatched to establish direct communication with the residents of Rempang Island and provide them with transparent information about the planned "national strategic projects" on the island.

The government's plan includes the development of an upscale business district named Rempang Eco City on the island. 

Additionally, the government has reached an agreement with Chinese company Xinyi Group to construct an integrated glass factory on the island, with an estimated investment of $11.5 billion. This project is expected to create approximately 35,000 new jobs in Rempang.

During the clash on Thursday, residents were attempting to obstruct the work of local authorities conducting land measurement and boundary marking for the projects.

Thousands of protesters had blocked the main road spanning approximately 25 kilometers across the island to hinder the land survey team and accompanying security personnel. They used trees and burning tires as makeshift barricades.

As the rally escalated into violence, police resorted to using tear gas to control the crowd. Some of the tear gas canisters landed at an elementary school in close proximity.

Reports indicate that some children experienced excessive tearing in their eyes when the tear gas infiltrated their classrooms. The police have detained at least eight demonstrators following the riot.

The standoff continued until Monday but no further clashes were reported.

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