Written by: Wicaksono Sarosa
Just got back from a very brief but touching/distressing (yet hopefully productive) visit to the City of Palu, which two months ago was devastated by 7.4 scale earthquake, followed by tsunami (13m-high in some parts of the waterfront, according to some eye-witnesses) as well as by much less understood but no less catastrophic land-liquifaction that has moved the ground, swallowed hundreds of houses and buried probably more than 2000 people deep underneath….
While the emergency stage has gradually been phased out and many parts of the cities have gone back to normal, the struggles remain for about 10K families that are now still live in tents hoping to have better temporary settlements (huntara — hunian sementara) or, even better, permanent resettlements (huntap — hunian tetap — the locations of which still await the new geologically-considered spatial plan). Moreover, many buildings, big and small, are still in need of either renovation or entirely reconstructing.
The remaining debris and rubbles that are still there tell us many poignant stories about loss of lives, loss of loved ones, missing family members, heroism, altruism, emphatic acts, helping each others, leaderships (or, in parts and in times, lack of it), struggles, blame-games and intricts, influences and insinuation, differing interests (public versus personal, political, business and others), traditional culture versus religious belief versus rationality, gotong royong versus the lack of clear job division/direction, conflicting authorities versus dire people demands….. and many more challenges.
It turns out to be really complicated at the ground level…..
But, if we can set aside individual self interests as well as bureaucratic inflexibilities and instead build partnerships while at the same time prioritizing the life improvement of those who have been displaced by the tripple disasters, we dare hope that somehow the city of Palu, with its beautiful surrounding landscapes, can be eventually built back better….