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Indonesia works to curb internal migration to Jakarta

Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo wants to curb the influx of internal migrants to Jakarta by boosting economic growth in the regions, as the capital is under strain due to urbanisation.

JAKARTA: Following the Idul Fitri exodus, the promise of getting better paying jobs has attracted thousands of Indonesians to leave their homes and seek their fortune in the capital Jakarta. But president-elect Joko Widodo wants to curb the influx by boosting economic growth in the regions.

Nearly 70,000 newcomers are estimated to migrate to the capital this holiday season, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2013. Millions of Jakarta residents travel to their home regions for family celebrations, and many of them return with relatives.

Parno and his friends are labour workers from Central Java who have been hired to work in a Jakarta construction site for US$10 a day.

“I've been holding project-based jobs in Jakarta for the past year now. I go home every three or four months,” said Parno.

But some job seekers like Atun are not as lucky. She has gone to Jakarta four times, but she remains unemployed. But the prospect of better pay has again attracted her to return once more.

She said: "Back home I get low pay while the price of goods is high. At least (in Jakarta) I earn enough for my living."

Urbanisation has become a problem for Jakarta, which is already under strain to overcome poverty. Most internal migrants have little money and uncertain job prospects, and many of them struggle to find housing.

Deputy Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has urged Widodo to implement a 2014 Regional Development Law when he steps into office. The law would allow the central government to distribute more than US$8 million to cities across the country to spur infrastructure development.

In some sectors there have been signs of progress. The growth of the middle class in other cities, for example, has boosted demand for skilled domestic workers from Java. They used to go to Jakarta for work.

But for many others, more work needs to be done. Authorities expect thousands to continue to pour into Jakarta, as long as urban development and opportunity remains out of balance. 

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