How to Solve the Urbanization Problem in Indonesia?


written by Muhammad Latif Fauzi 

Today, countries all over the world are faced with problems in their cities, such as transportation, pollution, health, environment, economy, poverty, illegal immigrants, and many others. If considered more fundamentally, those social and natural problems, especially in developing countries, are caused by one factor. It is the discrepancy of development in cities or towns and in villages. This may be wrong however this imbalanced development of areas in a country causes problems. The tendency to develop the city, as a centre of government and business, is more important than developing sub urban or even village areas. In Indonesia for instance, the government allocates more budget and focuses more on how to increase the quality of the infrastructure, build business centres and factories in big cities, like Jakarta or Surabaya, rather than to fill the fundamental necessity in many other areas. As a consequence, many malls and factories- which of course need many employees- create problems by enticing people from rural areas come to the city in order to get a job to improve their lives. As such, the urbanization wave cannot be avoided.

The strong flow of urbanization will make big cities dense and crowded. For many reasons, a densely populated area will not provide any benefits. It will, in contrast, create many problems in many aspects of life; legal, social, and economy. Some examples are limited public facilities, crime, transportation (including traffic jams), housing, and others. The Minister of Residencies and Area Infrastructures in 2004 (quoted from said that the population of cities in Indonesia has increased from 21.1 million people (17.6%) in 1971 to 82.5 million people (40.34%) in 2000. This number is predicted to increase and in 2005 it was calculated that the population of the city will reach around 167.4 million people (60.7%) from the total population of Indonesia of 275.6 million people.

The cases of urbanization generally have the same pattern in many areas of Indonesia. To mention an example based on the situation in my village, the huge number of villagers who come to the cities usually occurs after Idul Fitri, the holy day in Islam. In the end of the Ramadhan month, some days before the holy day, people who work in the big cities go home in order to meet their family. It is famously called “Mudik.” When they gather with relatives, they talk about their job and life in the big cities and invite their relatives who also want to follow them to earn a living in Jakarta or Surabaya. Somehow, cities, to their minds, have the potential for a better career.

Of course, it is not simple to find solutions to this complex problem. Society cannot easily be blamed for this not only deals with their awareness to the problem of city when high number of urbanization occurs but also the policy of government which is imbalanced to evenly develop all regencies in certain province, in East Java for instance. Making individuals aware of the problems of urbanisation is quite difficult. So, in my opinion, to address this problem, there can be no other way but for the government to give effective and strict regulations. For this some simple steps can be taken. First of all, the government should compel some factories or employers at a low level to enforce a rule that employees are to show their local ID card when they want to get a job. They cannot work simply by using their previous ID card. This means they should have to register at the government office to get a new ID card. Secondly, the government should regulate very strictly those who want to get a new ID card. They have to be investigated about how and where they will live in city, who has invited them to come to the city, and so on. Thirdly, this policy must be supported by socialization in mass media, either electronic or newspapers. Finally and most importantly, the government has to gradually build infrastructures and fields of work in all areas, not only centred on the city, so the villagers do not need to leave their own village in order to get a job. These four solutions hopefully can help to address the problem of urbanization in big cities in Indonesia.


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