Journal Province: West Java Regency/City: Depok Subdistrict: Bojongsari

Whose Bridge is This?

Written by Lulus Gita Samudra
Many times, the mass media reported about the sun storm that was coming, which the impact we couldn’t miss. Not only that, short messages through BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) and SMS (Short Message Service) came insistently into my cell phone inbox. It had been reported before that that night there was a possibility that earth temperature might increase that people were recommended to not go outside and were expected to shut down their cell phone for security purpose.

The bridge that connects the Pondok Petir to Rawakalong.

The bridge that connects the Pondok Petir to Rawakalong.

But this appeal wasn’t good for Rojes who had to keep awake in the dark of night to watch over the inhabitants from theft and robbery threats. His watch territory, Vila Pamulang housing complex, Pondok Petir, Depok, was regarded prone to theft, especially motorbike. Although this was a high risk job, what could he do? He could only provide for his family from that job.

At the end of Garuda IV alleyway, exactly on the edge of Angke River, a small post measured 2 ½ meters belonged to RT 02 RW 012 became his shelter. Without any windows and doors, and even though it had the shape of a building, it could be considered an open space. The sound of water flowing in the river was of course familiar in his ears. Not far to the north, there was a bridge that connected Rawakalong Village, Bogor Regency and Pondok Petir Village, Depok.

Across the bridge is the region Bogor Regency.

Across the bridge is the region Bogor Regency.

Rojes, a native inhabitant of Rawakalong Village, who was born in 1974, knew exactly all about that bridge which was made of combination of wood and bamboo. As far as he knew, that bridge was built around 1999 by the housing developer. “The river site wasn’t here before, Bro. The developer turned the flow. The original site was filled in then the new river flow was made. Then, to connect the village and the housing complex, the developer built a bridge,” said Rojes.

Rojes were relaxing at the guardhouse where he worked.

Rojes were relaxing at the guardhouse where he worked.

He added that initially that bridge was also built of simple series of wood. Not long after it had been built, the developer renovated it in order to make it more solid, so the bridge was built of concrete with 1 meter width. The developer did this as a duty to make a public facility because of the more and more busy housing environment.

Then in February 2002 it rained almost all day long, everyday, for a few weeks. The water from Angke River overflowed and people’s houses were under water. The fast current of the river kept pushing the bridge for 24 hours a day, everyday. It triggered the landslides on the edge of the river. Some bamboo trees were toppled, their stems were caught on the middle of the bridge. As a result, that bridge collapsed and was swept away by the flooded river.

The remains of concrete bridge foundations could still be seen.

The remains of concrete bridge foundations could still be seen.

The developer had left, the local government had not stepped in. In the end, the people felt disappointed. Rojes, whose real name was Sarbini Marhifal, explained that at that time the two villages had almost been disconnected. Many residents of Rawakalong Villages who had usually worked as construction workers, ojeg drivers, housemaids, and housing complex guards had taken days off, except the ones who wanted to take another route which was five times farther, through Curug Village, Bojongsari, Depok.

Gua bae segen muter-muter (I also didn’t feel like to take another route), so at that time I often skipped work, Bro,” Rojes added as he adjusted the sarong that protected him from the night wind.

At that time, the lack of this bridge of course had become a difficulty for the residents of the two villages. For Pondok Petir Village inhabitants, they had been short of labor resources to make their life easier. While for Rawakalong Village inhabitants, they had had difficulty to work to fulfill their household needs.

One month after the collapse of the bridge, the inhabitants of both villages had taken the initiative to build a new bridge at the same location. It had all been done in order to make their life returned to normal. As a result, both villages had had a new bridge which could connect them. With the limited fund and the lack of architectural knowledge, they cooperatively had built a simple bridge made of a combination of wood and bamboo.

The problem they had now was the feasibility of the bridge. “It wasn’t solid. When the wind was blowing hard or the water in the river was flowing rapidly, the bridge would be unsteady. There were many victims, Bro. There have already been six ojeg drivers who fell to the river with their motorbike, if I wasn’t mistaken,” said Rojes. He also said that in 2005 there had been 7 boy scouts fell from the bridge. Those Elementary children had been swept away, two had been survived, and the other five had died.

The night wind blew harder. Just the cigarette ember and sarong weren’t enough to warm the body. Until suddenly a resident who lived in Garuda IV alleyway came bringing some glasses of ginger coffee. He then sat and listened to the conversation. His name was Wiseso and familiarly called Babeh. Almost every night he came to the post where Rojes took shelter in the dark of night to help Rojes drove away the drowsiness.

Wiseso (on the left) was accompanying Rojes (on the right) watching the bridge at night.

Wiseso (the left one) was accompanying Rojes (the right one) watching the bridge at night.

According to him, when the bridge was already felt very unsteady, the residents of both villages would repair it so it became solid again. “Usually every 8 months we repaired it, because usually it was the time when the bridge started to become unsteady. The repair was done using money from RW 012 and was done in a lively group.”

Seeing that the existence of that bridge was very important, while its condition was very worrying, Babeh hoped that the bridge could be renovated in concrete that it would become more permanent and solid. “In fact, I hope it would be renovated so that cars could go through,” said Babeh as he blew his still hot ginger coffee.

But until now, people were still confused as from which government they had to ask for help, because the location of the bridge was between two regions. But Rojes said before, that in the campaign period of Depok Election, the winner success team had ever said that if their candidate had won as a governor then the bridge would be noticed.

“People forgot easily when they have already won. It hasn’t been repaired yet, up until now. Even the person has never showed up,” Rojes explained, grumbling.

And the night wind blew harder and harder. I didn’t know if it was because of the sun storm or a sign that it was going to rain soon. The wind blast made Rojes immediately drank his ginger coffee, so did Babeh. That bridge still stayed silent on its place, waiting for a more serious repair. I didn’t know which government that would repair it because of its existence which was between two government territories. However, all this time, the inhabitants had been the ones who had done their utmost because they felt they owned it.

About the author


Lulus Gita Samudra

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