The Jakarta Post, Wed, January 02 2013,
The sun had yet to rise but 37-year-old Jundi, with a broom in his hand, sat in an empty Transjakarta busway lane on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta, at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
Sweat soaked his face and his orange street-cleaning uniform despite the cool early morning temperature, as he tried to catch up with the Sanitation Agency’s garbage truck.
His work mates, sweeping up garbage after the New Year’s Eve carnival from the National Monument (Monas) on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan to the Atma Jaya University on Jl. Sudirman, had fallen behind the garbage truck that led the cleaning troupe.
“I’ve been cleaning up these streets every New Year since 1999, never was this grubby,” said Jundi as he struggled to catch his breath.
The city administration closed the streets to motorists to give way to the carnival and its 16 makeshift stages along the route, to launch the first ever car-free New Year’s Eve street festival and to centralize celebrations to limit traffic congestion during the night.
Around 200,000 Jakartans flocked to the city’s main thoroughfares, according to Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, to ring in the New Year. These crowds attracted street vendors, whom Jundi and other street cleaners blamed for the piles of garbage. “I’ve never seen as much trash at Monas and at the Bundaran HI [Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle] after a New Year’s Eve celebration as I saw today, and we are overwhelmed in cleaning it all up. I guess it was because there were many people and activities during the night and because they allowed street vendors to operate during the festival,” said 42-year-old street cleaner Amid.
Sanitation Agency chief Unu Nurdin estimated that the capital produced around 7,245 tons of garbage after New Year’s Eve celebration, most of which was concentrated along the main traffic arteries. The capital produced around 6,700 tons garbage during last year’s celebrations.
Unu said 330 of the 757 workers the agency rallied to clean the roads after the festivities would be deployed along the car-free route, which was recently inundated by traffic-stopping floods after torrential rains and clogged gutters.
The agency also dispatched 22 trucks to transport the garbage to the Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi, West Java, and four street-sweeping machines.
Amid said that he and his cleaning crew had been on standby at Monas since 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and started cleaning up the roads at 2 a.m. once the event concluded.
“We’ve been told to clean up the streets by 7 a.m. before more cars hit the road, but I am not sure we can do it. We usually were done cleaning the street at 5 a.m. in previous new years, but it’s 4 a.m. and there are still many things to do,” Amid said.
Wildy, 47, a sanitation worker from Jakarta’s Parks and Cemeteries Agency, shared Jundi and Amid’s grievances.
“Its not only that there is more garbage than ever, but the wet roads make it hard for us to clean up the waste and sweep the muddy roads,” Wildy said while picking up garbage strewn along the sidewalk. Rains soaked the capital on Monday, beginning at dusk and stopping just before midnight.
The administration did not only mobilize workers from the Sanitation Agency to sweep piles of garbage off the main roads, but also brought in workers from the Parks and Cemeteries Agency to clean up the sidewalks and green spaces and workers from the Public Works Agency to clean the sewers.
The street cleaners’ travails seem to have paid off.
Although some plastic garbage was still spotted around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle at 9 a.m. as evidence of the massive festivity held in the area at midnight, the mounds of trash that had covered the area only hours earlier were nowhere to be seen and traffic had returned to normal.
For their efforts, cleaning crews received high praise from some of the previous night’s guests.
“The street cleaners did a good job. There was trash all over the place when I left Jl. Sudirman after the midnight fireworks, but when I saw the street again at 4 a.m., the road was squeaky clean.” Thea Aninditya, 26, one of the partygoers, said.