People suddenly talked about Ria Rio reservoir since September 2013 after governor of Jakarta at that time, Joko Widodo, had the program to rejuvenate it.
The massive publication about the reservoir located in Pedongkelan, Pulogadung, East Jakarta also raised its popularity especially because the rejuvenation had the purpose not only to return its function as water storage to prevent flood but also to make it as open space for public’s activity. However, I and most friends especially office mates didn’t know where the exact location was.
Funny but true, surprisingly after exploring more information, I just noticed that 26 hectares reservoir was just so near to my office. By walking, it just needed around 15 to 20 minutes. However, it was quite understandable that we didn’t know it because what we knew that it was closed area of spacious land with lake, grasses that grew wild and tall, and illegal settlement. It got “scarier” from its image as the area of thugs.
Ria Rio was used to be a swamp area then it was transformed by the former Jakarta Governor Ali Sadikin to be a reservoir. It was officially opened in 1967 and developed as public space as well. People came for swimming, bringing their kids to play around, until watching movie from the portable screen and movie player that Indonesian people call it as layar tancap.
However, its glorious timd didn’t stay longer. Since 1969, its maintenance and development completely stopped. From that moment, Ria Rio became hideous. The negative image as mentioned above started to attach to public’s mind. Not only becoming the place of illegal settlement, but also having many not-good-sanitary-communal toilets and being giant rubbish bin that made the place was badly smelly. It got worse since the lake became the big pond of water hyacinth or enceng gondok grew wild and uncontrollable.
Now it seems that Ria Rio has gained back its fame. This afternoon, I go to this place for the first time. Absolutely the dark stereotype of this place has gone away. I see a lake with serenity, I see kids running free, and I see sparrows flying around the growing green trees. The ambiance is so lively and dynamic.
In this rejuvenation, the main action is dredging the soil on the lake so the reservoir can function better as bigger water storage in Jakarta. Meanwhile, for supporting the function as public space, it is completed by walking paths, amphitheater, many park chairs, many rubbish bins, and wifi.
People reading book, talking, playing games, fishing, capturing photos, feeding sparrows, and dating commonly can be seen right now. Indeed, this afternoon visit inspires me to visit other reservoirs that are yet actively rejuvenated by Jakarta governance like Pluit, Bojong, Sunter, Teluk Gong, Situ Lembang, Melati, Rawa Babon, Cengkareng, Grogol, Pegangsaan II, Bujana Tirta, and Tomang Barat.