What would you say if government called your neighborhood a slum, asked you to leave, so they can build a new park?
That’s the questions for hundreds of residents in Tamansari, Bandung, the 3rd largest city in Indonesia known as tourist destination with iconic landmarks.
This area of 90 homes may looks densely populated, but most of the residents earn more than the city’s minimum wage by renting rooms. Located near 3 universities, 3 shopping malls, and a zoo, the accommodation they offer is interesting for many.
“We had decent living,” one of residents, female in her 40s, told me.
But those were the days before 2017, when Bandung government announced a development plan. Residents were asked to rent after 5 years or leave.
The city received USD 3.7 million from the central government for “City Without Slums” program. Supported by international loans such as IMF, the infrastructure program has been removing local communities.
Bandung has removed areas called Siliwangi in 2015 and Kiaracondong in 2017 which now have turned into public parks for selfie destination.
“Tamansari doesn’t want to be like them,” she hoped.
Tamansari community has been existing here for more than 40 years, in a piece of land described as ‘free area’ by the city’s land agency. According to Indonesian Land Bill, each family and their homes are eligible for land certification.
“Yet the process took a thousand year and never completed,” she added.
They were waiting for the process when they heard Bandung will build a new apartment there. Before any agreement were made, government officials started an eviction.
“Can you imagine children going back from school and see their homes were being dismantled?”
Afraid of uncertainty, 74 families have left. Yet 16 remaining houses filed complaint with the court, fighting for their rights.
But since the dispute started 2 years ago, she said, no one is interested in renting accommodation any longer.
Right now, locals have been living amid the uncertain situation, hoping that the court will soon rule in their favor.
In the meantime, with support from local artists, they have painted rubbles and host public events to raise support. They are trying to make most of Tamansari, or what’s left of it.***
Rio Tuasikal is a multimedia journalist in Indonesia focusing in freedom, discrimination, and marginalized communities. This piece was submitted for an assignment at Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) at Ateneo, Philippines.