Jakarta on top

Efi Januar

People say the number of skyscrapers in a city’s skyline is a sign of development. The more skyscrapers a region has, the more developed it is. Is it true? I spent almost all of my life in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I lived in the outskirts of Jakarta. The highest building I see the most is the tip of the mosque in neighborhood, if we put the tower of base transceiver stations aside. Being in my neighborhood is bliss for me. Why? Because we “stay” on the ground, me and my neighbors are equal, we stand on the same ground.

But, it will dramatically change when I drive my lovely motorbike to central of the capital. I get trapped in the concrete jungle. High rise buildings are everywhere, hotels, offices, malls, apartments and all. It freaks me out. I feel so tiny; the tall buildings are intimidating me. It is like it speaks to me, “Hey! You down there! Yes, you! You are powerless; the one with power should be inside of me, here in my 47th floor!”

Why? The more power (read: money) you have the higher the building you will be placed in. And, from the top of a building you can “control” the people who are down under. Jakarta itself has about 700 high-rise buildings. This year, two significant buildings are about to be built, the Menara Jakarta (558 meters high) and the Signature Tower (638 meters high). The latter is about to be the tallest building in the world.

But, with the investment grade status given to Indonesia, I am sure the number of tall building will increase. Investors happily put their money in Indonesia. If merely investing is not enough they will have their branch here in Indonesia, most likely in Jakarta. And they need offices. If the current supply isn’t enough to house all the companies moving to Jakarta, it is a green light for property developers to build yet another building.

A president director of an Indonesian property company told the public that they expect to raise money from the stock exchange. They said it was an easy way to get cheap money instead of getting a bank loan. Why? Indonesia’s economy is in robust condition, so it is gets money from the market. Most of the analysts also state that the property sector is still growing and it is time to invest in that sector. The demand of business districts that include office towers, apartments, and malls is still high.

If they build yet another building, it is definitely going to dislodge the neighborhood surrounding it. If the expansion continues to grow and grow, where on earth will people like me, the “powerless” people, stay at night? For sure I can’t rent their luxurious apartment.

So what is the point of being known as a developed city? The buildings reflect development but these very same buildings are jeopardizing the neighborhoods of Jakarta. And as these neighborhoods conceal the true identity of the city this is a great shame.

My friend once commented when we were looking through the window of 42th floor, “I thought Jakarta is a jungle of concrete, but we still have open space that has no building on it.”  I nodded, “it is just about time, the ground will be extincted soon.”

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2 responses to “Jakarta on top”

  1. Tiffany says :

    Good things to think about. Not everyone can or wants to live in an ivory tower world…

  2. Antonio says :

    You let us see, beyond the shining lights of the skycrapers, the reality of a changing way of living, where greed for power (read: money) is destroying environment and the relation between mankind and “mother” nature. Even from the distance it seems so clear to me through your article.
    Thank you Efi. KEEP WRITING! (beyond the stock exchange)

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