Government to Proceed with Relocation in Batam Despite Resident’s Protest

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Investment Minister and Head of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board Bahlil Lahadalia stressed that the government will proceed with the relocation of thousands of residents affected by the mega project in the Rempang area. He directly visited the relocation point in the Galang Island area, Batam City yesterday, Sunday, August 13, 2023.

“I inspected Rempang with the Governor of Riau Islands and the Mayor of Batam. There will be a downstream investment development in Rempang from quartz sand and silica to establish the world’s biggest glass factory after China’s,” said Bahlil after a meeting in Batam on Sunday evening. The total investment amounted to US$11.5 billion.

Bahlil said that the development will proceed with the residents’ rights in mind. However, not all of the aspirations can be accommodated. 

“(The affected residents) will be relocated to 45-type houses on 200 hectares of land,” Bahlil said. “There are demands we can accommodate, and there are ones we can’t accommodate. We’ll search for a win-win solution.”

The relocation area is claimed to have been prepared. Bahlil stressed that Riau Islands ought to have positive economic growth. “(Relocation) is one of the measures to ensure the investment is secure,” Bahlil remarked. “After the relocation and other preparations, we will start with the groundbreaking this year.” 

The glass factory development is a direct result of President Jokowi’s visit to China a while ago, securing an investment from Xinyi Group.

The government accelerated the plan to develop Rempang City, rumored to become Rempang Eco-City Area. The development will be managed through a third-party developer, PT Megah Elok Graha (MEG). PT MEG will transform the city into an industrial complex, from tourism, services, to housing.

However, the island development plan is met with rejection from Rempang locals. The residents of 16 old villages in Rempang emphasized that they are not opposed to the development itself but are also not willing to be relocated. 

On Friday, July 21, 2023, government officers met with the residents to have a dialogue concerning Rempang development. “Go ahead and develop Rempang, but don’t disturb our ancestor’s villages, don’t evict us,” said Rusli, a local, during the event.

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