Dozens of three-story high-rise building construction began to be shrouded in dust in the area of Meikarta megaproject bordering Jayamukti Village, Cikarang, Bekasi, West Java. Some concrete piles with a length of about eight meters are only piled beside the construction.
No cranes and excavators were operated to build the construction. No workers were on site when Katadata.co.id came on Friday (10/19), as if abandoned and far from the description of Meikarta new city development, which has dozens of apartment towers, offices, and shopping centres.
The condition was very different when Katadata.co.id came to the same area in September 2017. At that time, all day long, the loud noise from the drilling and piling rigs was heard up to the houses of villagers within 100 meters of the project site.
Dozens of bulldozers and other heavy equipment were dredging the soil into building foundations. Some yellow cranes moved endlessly. Like an extravaganza, the megaproject construction was equipped with hundreds of giant multi-coloured balloons with the Meikarta logo hovering over tens of thousands of hectares of land in the area.
Meikarta construction in Cikarang, Bekasi Regency, 18 September 2017 (Arief Kamaludin|KATADATA)
Aside from the dimming of the project construction work compared to a year ago, the eight-kilometre (km) fence separating the project area from the residential area is now gone. It was demolished last Monday (15/10), following the announcement of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) about bribery in the Meikarta licensing process.
Demolition of the fence was carried out after all activities in the Meikarta project stopped. “It has stopped for a long time. But the demolition [heavy equipment] was carried out recently,” Mega (27) told Katadata.co.id.
About 500 meters from Jayamukti Village, the Meikarta project bordering Cibatu Village also suffered the same fate. In the project area, heavy equipment is no longer seen. Hundreds of workers and foremen who used to go out in Cibatu Village disappeared.
The foremen working in the construction project had previously rented houses in Cibatu Village. It is located near the construction site. “The foreman rented houses here when the construction project was underway,” said Sadi (31), a resident of Cibatu Village.
According to him, workers began to leave in line with the cessation of construction work at the end of 2017. Sadi heard the news that the Meikarta construction near his settlement had stopped due to a permit issue.
Construction of the Meikarta residential area in Cikarang, Bekasi Regency, 19 October 2018 (Arief Kamaludin | KATADATA)
Late last year, the West Java Provincial Government did publish a recommendation for the licensing of the Meikarta project construction, but it was only for an area of 84.6 hectares (ha). Bekasi Regencial Government then followed up the matter by issuing a location permit for 84.3 ha of land. It has a difference of 0.3 ha from the West Java Provincial Government’s recommendation.
The issued permits seemed to bury the dream of Meikarta developer, PT Mahkota Sentosa Utama (MSU), to build a new city with an area of 500 ha. Meanwhile, PT Lippo Cikarang Tbk (LPCK), which controls 100% of MSU’s shares, claimed it would invest up to Rp 278 trillion to build the new city of Meikarta.
The Lippo Group plans to build 184 buildings for apartments and offices. They also plan to equip the property with shopping centres, educational institutions, health facilities, and 100 ha of parks.
Licensing problems have been heard since the tumultuous advertisement of the property projects in various mass media. Katadata’s report in October 2017 has revealed a variety of permit and marketing issues that still haunt the project.
At the beginning of last week, Meikarta’s problems became more complicated after the KPK uncovered allegations of bribery between Lippo Group officials and Bekasi Regent Neneng Yasin, along with her associates, in the permit process. The anticorruption agency has arrested Billy Sindoro (Lippo Group Operational Director), along with Taryudi and Fitra Djaja Purnama (consultants), and Henry Jasmen (employee in Lippo Group).
Reporter: Dimas Jarot Bayu Michael Reily