The Jakarta administration will release more than 2,000 beggars, buskers and street children it deemed a nuisance during Ramadan and crammed into shelters.
Kian Kelana, head of the city’s social affairs agency, said on Wednesday that the people, known collectively as PMKS, would be released a week after Idul Fitri celebrations and had received “training” during their time in the shelters.
“We have rounded up more than 2,000 PMKS and have placed them in shelters in Kedoya, Cengkareng [both in West Jakarta] and Ceger [in East Jakarta],” he said. “During this time, we provided them with skills training, so they will have the skills to get a proper job rather than returning to the streets and panhandling.”
The government began rounding up the people on July 20, ahead of Ramadan, which began on Aug. 1. The move came in anticipation of an increase in the number of beggars and buskers who come to Jakarta from rural areas during the holy month.
Kian said most of the people put in shelters were not from Jakarta and would be sent back to their hometowns. “Most of the PMKS come from West Java and Central Java, and we’re coordinating with the provincial social affairs offices there to send them back to their families,” he said.
Those without families, he continued, would receive additional training over the next three weeks to improve their chances of finding employment.
Kian said the training provided at the shelters was intended to teach them how to repair air-conditioners and cellphones, and learn gardening, cooking and beauty salon skills.
“AC and cellphone repairs are our main focus because these two skills provide them with greater job opportunities and allow them to be their own bosses,” he said.
Last year, the administration arrested 2,500 PMKS ahead of Ramadan, 50 percent fewer than in 2009. Though the raids this year officially ended on Sunday, public order officers rounded up at least 46 beggars on Tuesday night.
Data from the social affairs agency shows the number of street children in the capital has increased from 5,650 in 2010 to 7,315 so far this year.
Most of them work as panhandlers, buskers, illegal parking attendants or three-in-one “jockeys,” riding with motorists to allow them to skirt rules on the number of passengers required in cars on major thoroughfares during commute times.