Zaky Pawas, Lenny Tristia Tambun & Dessy Sagita
The Jakarta Metropolitan Police are putting their focus on toll roads and several other popular demonstration spots ahead of Tuesday’s planned Labor Day protest to avoid crippling traffic.
In protests earlier this year, demonstrators blocked toll roads in the Greater Jakarta area; a rally on the now-postponed plan to increase the price of subsidized fuel blocked a road in South Jakarta, while a January rally demanding an increase in the minimum wage blocked a road in Cikarang.
Both rallies resulted in crippling traffic with many commuters stuck for hours.
“We will guard the toll roads because they are public property,” said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto.
Police will also beef up security in front of the State Palace, the House of Representatives building, the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration office on Jalan Gatot Subroto.
The Indonesian Labor Unions Confederation (KSPI) said at least 100,000 workers would participate in the Labor Day rally.
“Starting at 9 a.m. on May 1, we will rally from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and march to the state palace,” KPSI president Said Iqbal said. “At 1 p.m., we will declare the Indonesian laborers’ manifesto at Gelora Bung Karno.”
Said added that during the May 1 declaration, seven workers’ unions in Indonesia will form an Indonesian Workers Assembly as an umbrella organization to coordinate different unions as well as advocate on their behalf.
The Jakarta Police said it anticipated 50,000 protestors would join the demonstration.
“For May Day, we have prepared 16,700 officers from the police and military,” Rikwanto said.
Police are anticipating a repeat of last month’s anti-subsidized fuel hike rallies, which ended in chaos when protesters hurled rocks and vandalized the toll road.
Their actions prompted police to open fire with rubber bullets and teargas.
Rikwanto said police would meet with several labor organizations to ensure that their rallies are peaceful.
Additional reporting from Antara