Indonesia compensates people as social restrictions hit Jakarta

11-Apr-2020 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Indonesian government has announced its plan to compensate people for disruptions caused by the new coronavirus pandemic as the country’s capital Jakarta launched “large-scale social restrictions” beginning at midnight Thursday.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told a virtual press conference Thursday that a total of 3.2 trillion rupiah (6.85 billion baht) will be allocated for providing basic commodities to about 1.8 million households in Greater Jakarta, which covers the capital and its surrounding areas, for a period of three months starting next week.

In addition, 37.2 trillion rupiah cash will be distributed to 19 million households living outside Greater Jakarta, while 360 billion rupiah is earmarked for some 197,000 drivers of public transportation over the three months.

“The social assistance will be distributed to discourage people, particularly the residents of Greater Jakarta, from going back to their hometowns,” Jokowi said.

He was referring to hundreds of thousands of Indonesians who have gone back to their hometowns or are considering such a journey by train, bus or other means of transportation, speeding up the annual exodus from Jakarta for Eid al-Fitr, a holiday coming in May that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month.

The early exodus occurred following rumours about a possible lockdown in Jakarta. Many others went back to their hometowns after losing their jobs in the capital due to the virus outbreak.

With the outflow of people from the capital, however, there are elevated concerns that the deadly virus may spread widely.

Data from the Ministry of National Development Planning shows that as of March 31, a total of 800,255 people had travelled from Jakarta to their hometowns by train. The figure was 76 percent higher than a year earlier, according to the ministry.

The number does not include those who left for their hometowns via other kinds of public transportation.

Jokowi said he could not simply ban people from returning to their hometowns, because some would need to do so for “economic reasons.”

Aside from the social assistance announced Thursday, Jokowi unveiled plans last week to spend over 405 trillion rupiah on health care, social welfare and business recovery programmes for underprivileged families as well as small and medium-sized enterprises badly affected by the virus outbreak.

The large-scale social restrictions take effect for an initial period of two weeks, with the possibility of extension. People are generally required to stay at home while working, studying and praying, and to maintain physical distance from others while using public facilities.

During the period, only essential service providers such as supermarkets, hospitals, gas stations and banks are allowed to remain open. Restaurants can only offer take-out services and any gatherings of more than five people are forbidden across the city. Public transport in the capital will run at half-capacity and only from 6am to 6pm, while app-based motorcycle taxi services will only be allowed to deliver goods, not passengers.

Conventional taxis and private cars will still be able to carry people, but in reduced numbers to maintain physical distance.

“Any violations against the large-scale social restrictions will be sanctioned in accordance to the law, including the Criminal Code,” Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told a press conference before midnight Thursday.

According to him, violators could face up to one year in jail or fines of up to 100 million rupiah.

Indonesia is struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus, with 3,293 confirmed infections across all of its 33 provinces, including 1,706 in Jakarta, as of Thursday.

Of the country’s 280 deaths from the coronavirus, 142 occurred in Jakarta. Indonesia also saw its highest daily increase of fatalities with 40 new deaths.

A study by the State Intelligence Agency warns that the coronavirus pandemic in the country may reach its peak in the next three months, resulting in more than 106,000 cases by July.

The agency earlier estimated that Indonesia could confirm up to 1,577 cases by the end of March, roughly matching the government’s official count of 1,528 cases as of March 31.


Category: Indonesia

Print This Post

Comments are closed.