A demonstration against Semen Indonesiaâ€™s plan to build a factory in Rembang (ANTARA)
By Sumarjono *)
Rembang, a regency with a population of around 600,000 people, is one of the poorest cities in Jawa Tengah and even Indonesia. Its poverty rate has reached 19.5 percent, beating Jawa Tengahâ€™s poverty rate of 13.5 percent.
This is sad and may be a little bit ironic as Rembang is the largest salt producer in Jawa Tengah and one of the ten largest in Indonesia.
In 2011, new was spread in the region that PT Semen Indonesia intended to build a factory in Rembang. The Jawa Tengah governor granted the environment permit around a year later and the ground breaking took place in 2014.
The plan brought hope for Rembang to improve its peopleâ€™s welfare, with the job opportunities that will be created and the multiplier effect that will improve the residentsâ€™ economy as they would be able to build food stalls, boarding houses and other businesses.
Semen Indonesia itself declared that it is committed to alleviate poverty in Rembang, saying that it will employ 2,267 people, and guide micro, small and medium businesses (UMKM) in the region to bolster their earnings.
The company also announced that it will build a clean water installation and other facilities, such as a traditional reservoir (embung) and artesian wells.
Unfortunately, that positive intention may not materialize as a small number of farmers who claim to be members of the Care for Mount Kendeng Community (JMPPK), are fighting against the factoryâ€™s establishment.
They are struggling to influence the government to cancel the factoryâ€™s construction. If they succeed, the country may not only lose potential income worth several trillion rupiah and expand one of her state-owned enterprises, the people of Rembang will lose one of its economic potentials.
*) The reader is an observer of state-owned enterprises