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THOUSAND JOIN FOR CLEANER JAKARTA

In a bid to increase awareness of green issues, around 5,000 locals and foreigners
from more than 100 community groups, schools and private firms took part in the
annual Clean Up Jakarta Day on Sunday morning, picking up trash at several sites
across the city.

At Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Stadium in Senayan sports complex, Central
Jakarta, around 800 people of all ages got involved in the event, which was held
by Indonesia Expat magazine.

Equipped with gloves and plastic sacks, they busied themselves picking up trash
from the ground alongside Sunday morning runners and groups of friends.

Plastic spoons and cigarette butts are my biggest catch so far, 48-year-old
participant Judy said, wiping sweat from her forehead.

Judy, who works for one of the companies sponsoring the event, said she was
happy to participate in picking up trash, as similar events were regularly held in
her hometown, Melbourne.

Judy lamented that littering was still a bad habit for many Jakartans. When I see
people littering, instead of complaining, I usually pick up their trash so theyll be
ashamed, she said.

Judy, who has been living in Jakarta for nine months, said the movement was a
good example to raise awareness in society of the importance of waste
management.

Her motivation was shared by Rahmat Hidayat, the coordinator of social
community Minggu Berbagi (Weekend Sharing), which cleans up GBK every two
weeks.

Our goal is not only to clear trash, but also to encourage people to be more aware
about their waste, he said.

Rahmat said he was ashamed that foreigners were more aware about city
sanitation than the locals. We decided to clean up this place every two weeks
after we saw Japanese cleaning club Osoji picking up flyers that we had
distributed for our other activities and that people had dropped on the ground, he
said.

Rahmat said that although Clean Up Jakarta Day came only once a year, it could
help convince the public and the city administration to pay more attention to city
cleanliness.

In GBK for example, people want to throw their garbage in trash bins, but
theyre not available or broken, he said. Most trash bins around GBK are either
gone or damaged.

Rahmat said that moreover, sanitation officers were reluctant to reprimand
litterers.

Many companies promote their products here by giving free samples but they
dont care if visitors put the packaging in the bin or not, he complained.

Other sites targeted by Clean Up Jakarta Day included Menteng Park, Pasar Baru
and National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta; Santa market, Jl.
Kemang Raya, Jl. Brawijaya and Jl. Terogong Raya in South Jakarta; Jl. Raya
Bekasi Timur in East Jakarta and areas around Bina Bangsa School in Pantai
Indah Kapuk, North Jakarta.

Angela Richardson, the founder of Clean Up Jakarta Day, said around 5,000
volunteers on Sunday managed to collect about 35 tons of garbage from 27 sites
across the city in two hours.

The number is five times higher than last years six tons of rubbish collected by
1,000 volunteers in 16 places.

However, our goal is not clearing garbage but getting people involved and
increasing awareness, she said, adding that 30 percent of the participants were
foreigners while the rest were locals.

Angela, the chief editor of Indonesia Expat, said around 30 percent of the garbage
would be recycled. We cooperate with street children foundation KDMs Jakarta
Green Project to sort out the garbage and sell anything recyclable to a recycling
factory, she said, adding that the money would be used for charity.

She said she hoped the event could gain official sponsorship from the city
administration. We hope we can gather 20,000 volunteers next year, she said.








Tourists return despite
eruptions
The last two weeks continued eruptions of Mount Sinabung in Karo regency,
North Sumatra, have not scared off foreign tourists , who have begun to return to
a number of destinations in the regency.

This was in evidence at the renowned Berastagi resort, to which groups of foreign
tourists were seen flocking on Sunday.

Of one the tourists, Zhang HW from Shanghai, said that initially he was afraid to
visit Karo because of Mt. Sinabungs eruptions. Yet, he said, his fear disappeared
as he and his group arrived at Berastagi.

I think its safe here. I imagined that Berastagi was still covered with layers of
volcanic ash, but it seems to have gone, Zhang told The Jakarta Post in Berastagi
on Sunday.

Zhang, who was on his second visit to Karo, said he enjoyed visiting the regency
for its cool air and beautiful scenery.

I may well come back again, he said, adding that he had spent a night at the
Simalem Park Resort in Merek district before heading to Berastagi.

Hakim Halim of Malaysia expressed a similar sentiment, saying that he was
impressed by the beautiful scenery of Karo.

The desire for others to enjoy the scenery had induced him to bring along 206
students and teachers of the Fairview International School, where he works as a
teacher, to Karo. They spent three days at Simalem Park Resort.

This is part of an educational tour. Its really fun, said Halim, adding that the
group had not felt the impact of Mt. Sinabungs eruptions while they were in
Karo.

The head of Karo Regency Tourism Agency, Dinasty Sitepu, said that the number
of foreign and domestic tourists visiting Karo had been returning to normal as the
intensity of eruptions decreased.

We hope the condition of Sinabung will continue to improve and that tourists
will continue to return to Karo, said Dinasty.

Dinasty earlier admitted that the eruptions had affected tourism in the regency,
with the number of tourists dropping by 60 percent.

Two weeks ago, tourism in Berastagi was reported to have been paralyzed as thick
layers of volcanic ash from Mt. Sinabung blanketed the resort. Stores closed and
the number of hotel guests dwindled.

However, as the wind changed its direction to the west of the slope of the volcano,
the volcanic ash covering Berastagi became ever thinner until business returned to
normal.

As of Sunday, Mt. Sinabung was continuing to erupt, spewing searing lava,
pyroclastic flows and volcanic ash into the air, but the eruptions were not as
severe as before.

The head of the Mt. Sinabung observation post, Armen Putra, said that on
Monday the volcano
released searing lava at least 50 times alongside a pyroclastic flow, while volcanic
ash was ejected onto the eastern part of the volcanos slope.

So far, no volcanic ash has reached Berastagi as the speed of the wind is
normal, Armen said.

The volcano first erupted in September last year, killing at least 14 people and
forcing thousands of others to seek shelter.

Besides affecting tourism, the eruptions have also disrupted agriculture in the
regency, with hectares of farmland blanketed by volcanic ash.