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A Floating City – Part 2: Street Vendors Migration

by on December 30, 2009

This cruiser, which unruffled except for three meters heavy waves, was a mobile shelter that, suffice to say, low-cost enough for most passengers. Such free entertainments for us were watching the sea, sometimes played along with drizzling rains and gusty winds, on the fourth deck. During the transit time in Tanjung Pandan, another entertainment was getting a look on commotion of passengers who were being transported down to a middle-sized motorboat which would finally take them to Belitung island and vice versa.

Ibu Hajah Martiah, one of passengers who enjoyed the same free entertainments, went together to Pontianak with her relatives. Her mission was simple enough, to return her beloved grandson (that was being raised since his birthday) to his parents who migrated to Pontianak. Martiah explained to us warmly, “I only know this cruiser as the cheapest vehicle in islands transportation. In my whole life, the one and only opportunity to be seated in an airplane was when I went to Mecca for pilgrim”.

This 58 years old woman came from Anyer, an area in Banten province that being famous for its resort and seatourism. Her child was living in Pontianak, surprisingly, for more than 10 years, working as ambulatory street vendor. Selling satay at night and porridge in the morning, her son did not live alone there. Instead, he lived together with group of migrants from the same neighborhood and had the same skill as hawkers. “At Gang Waris and two other neighborhoods in Pontianak, most of Anyer people have been living there for a long time. They even share kinship like in the village. My nephew has went there before my son came and work as street vendor as well”.

That migration footprint signed that cities would always be attractive for rural and periurban community who aspired for a better life. Kinship, similar language and same geographical background supported the development of their small scale businesses cartel. The rural pioneer who opened the road of trans-urbanisation lead the growth of cities in different islands. Needless to say, the comparison of hometown, the principal residence, and current living quarter were inessential. “In Anyer, we have difficulties in obtaining cooking fuel so that the local government have to provide the 3 liters LPG aid whereas in Pontianak it is easier to find kerosene”, said Martiah. Basic services, however, for Pontianak people were another issue to cope with. As for the swampy and mucky lands, this equatorial city could not provide an accessible water supply and rainwater harvesting was something considered normal.

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