JAKARTA — Sept. 17, 2019: Indonesian president Joko Widodo was quoted by the Antara news agency as expressing regret over the efforts by district authorities in handling forest fires which had led to extreme haze especially in Kalimantan, Riau and Jambi.
“We have increased the teams (of fire-fighters). But if there is no support from the district authorities, it is a mammoth task that is difficult to resolve.
“We have everything, but (the resources are) not used properly. If the infra-structure is used properly, I am convinced the fires can be tackled,” Jokowi said.
According to the Antara report, people were angry that Riau governor Syamsuar and Pekanbaru mayor Firdaus are currently overseas despite the haze worsening.
Beginning January, more than 42,000 hectares of forest and plantation land in several provinces in Indonesia have been on fire.
Indonesian environmental activists have criticised the government for its apparent lack of seriousness in tackling forest fires, resulting in the bad haze, and affecting public safety.
According to press reports, the haze has not only affected locals, but has also crossed borders to affect neighbouring countries.
According to Khalisah Khalid, head of Walhi, the Indonesian Forum for Environmental Resources, to date no action has been taken against 10 companies found guilty of these fires between 2012 and 2015.
Walhi executive director in Jambi, Rudiansyah, said the authorities only acted selectively against those responsible. — Bernama