Another mall, another conflict. The Indonesian Association of Traditional Market Traders (APPSI) is protesting the plan to develop a new Koja Trade Mall (a "modern" market) in North Jakarta, right next to a still thriving Koja "traditional" market (Pasar Koja).
Sumardiyanto, the association's head, said that Pasar Koja currently acommodates some 2,000 traders, the biggest number of traders compared to other 15 traditional markets in Jakarta. The daily turnover is Rp 600,000 ($66) a day a trader, totalling to Rp 1.2 billion a day. Quite significant.
Jakarta Regulation No. 2/2002 specified that modern markets as large as 2,000 to 4,000 sqm has to locate at least 2 km away from traditional markets. Modern markets larger than 4,000 sqm at least 2.5 km away. Koja Trade Mall will be as large as 28,000 sqm.
Apparently the school community in the area is also opposed to the mall. Meanwhile, President SBY some time ago asked that traditional markets not be let to free competition with the burgeoning "hypermarkets".
I feel what the traditional market traders are fighting for. For me the problem is not about "traditional" or "modern", but about the number of economic actors involved in each side of the tension. Traditional markets, clearly, employ more people and acommodate more & more diverse shareholders than modern markets.
But really, is protection the more appropriate and longer term solution to this? I believe capacity building and some kind of subsidy (not simply in the form of physical improvement of the market) are better answers. For example,
- Perhaps somone should build the capacity of traditional traders to apply better, more modern management so that traditional markets are not synonym to dirty, smelly places?
- Or perhaps somone should facilitate some kind of capital & business consolidation among the traditional traders to increase their pecuniary advantage against the likes of Carrefour, so that traditional markets are equally able to buy at large scale and sell at lower prices?