Controversial Balikpapan Mall Picks Up High-Level Support

By webadmin on 10:15 pm Jul 05, 2012
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Tunggadewa Mattangkilang

Balikpapan. East Kalimantan Governor Awang Farouk Ishak has given critics of a planned Rp 1 trillion ($107 million) mall here an ultimatum: Accept it, or leave town.

“If there are still people opposed to it, they should just move from Balikpapan,” he said on Wednesday. “This mall is for the good of the people. On matters of development, there should be no hesitation.”

He said the construction and operation of the mall would create 7,000 jobs and empower small and medium businesses.

Awang added that the project was a necessary development and had already been granted a building permit from the municipal authorities.

Critics oppose the construction of the six-story mall and adjoining 21-floor hotel and apartment tower on the grounds that it will cause irreversible environmental damage, increase the potential for flooding in the already deluge-prone area and disrupt traffic.

Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Efendi lent his backing to the mall as important to the economic development of the city, but stressed that the developers should ensure at least 37 percent of the area was dedicated to open green space.

He also said city officials had carried out a study on measures to mitigate flooding as a result of the mall’s construction and were currently investigating how best to reroute traffic through the area.

Izal Wardana, executive director of the Balikpapan chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the city should not have granted the building permit and instead allowed the space to remain undeveloped as a water catchment area.