Indra Harsaputra, The
Jakarta Post, Sidoarjo
The firm at the heart of the
mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java might have
agreed to buy all affected land, houses and rice
fields but problems remain.
Arifah, 17, ended up in
Bhayangkara Hospital in Porong with burns to 35
percent of her body after slipping into the hot
mud. She was on her way to the home of relatives
to help them pack up to leave for a shelter in
Pasar Baru market when she slipped right into the
hot mud. Lapindo Brantas Inc. did not cover all
the medical bills.
"I was intending to help
a relative whose house had been surrounded by hot
mud. My relative wanted to evacuate," she told
The Jakarta Post.
The hot mud, which has
been gushing out of Lapindo's exploration site
since May 29, has shown no signs of stopping,
forcing more than 10,000 people to abandon their
houses and others to lose their sources of
And the hot mud, which
triggered a recent gas pipeline blast that killed
13 people, continues to be a danger.
"There continues to be a
threat to your safety. The turnpike bridge has
started to subside and crack and the dikes are
prone to collapse since the wet season started
around Porong. People should be very careful since
there's no guarantee from the government or
Lapindo," said the coordinator of rescue and
evacuation volunteers, Adjie.
He said the pipeline
blast was a clear example that there was no
guarantee for people's safety or lives at the
"I'd heard about the
danger posed by the pipeline but I can't
understand why it is being moved only after it
claimed lives...," he said.
Dian, 30, is moving to
the market before the mud completely engulfs her
Currently, some 8,000
people are taking shelter in the market and more
might come since residents living two kilometers
away from the site have started abandoning their
"Every night when it's
cloudy, I feel worried, fearing the dikes will
collapse. It seems like the national team in
charge of dealing with the disaster are working
half-heartedly... the mud has submerged 8,000
houses in Tanggulangin Sejahtera housing complex
but it's not clear whether Lapindo is paying
compensation or not," Dian said.
Hundreds of residents
from the housing complex have threatened to
continue to hold protests. They have been
protesting twice a week but it is not clear
whether Lapindo will compensate them.
Land expert from
Surabaya's Airlangga University, Urip Santoso,
said Lapindo should compensate the housing complex
"Legally, Lapindo should
also provide renumeration for all damages
experienced by victims who are directly or
indirectly affected by the mud," he said.
He said problems would
continue to develop in the coming days since the
company's agreement to purchase all affected land,
houses and rice fields was not legally binding.
For instance, he said the
company had not made public the criteria for the
land, houses and rice fields it would purchase or
the status of the land after the transaction was
Operational manager of
Surabaya's Legal Aid Institute, Attoilah, said the
deal between Lapindo and residents was like a
campaign to please residents but legally it was
"If it's a deal, there
should be written proof. But there's no written
evidence. You may recall how Vice President Jusuf
Kalla promised to replace the houses of Yogya
quake victims but the promise did not
materialize," he said.