Wednesday, January 17, 2007

City workers prepare for bird culls

The Jakarta Post, Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Bogor

City officials have begun mapping poultry populations in Jakarta before they enforce a central government ban on all domesticated birds in residential areas.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo said officials were focusing on neighborhoods where people had caught the H5N1 virus and those where birds were thought to be infected.

"The fowls from these neighborhoods will all be slaughtered," Fauzi told the Detikcom newsportal.

Adnan Ahmad, the deputy head of the city fisheries and animal husbandry agency, confirmed officials had begun the mapping work.

"Today (Tuesday) we are carrying out mapping in several areas in East and West Jakarta," he said.

Earlier Monday, Governor Sutiyoso called on city residents to voluntarily slaughter all backyard fowls -- especially chickens, ducks and pigeons -- to curb the spread of bird flu.

Sutiyoso's statement followed an announcement by Vice President Jusuf Kalla that the central government planned eventually enforce a total ban on all poultry in residential areas nationwide.

Four people have died of bird flu in Jakarta during the past week, pushing up the country's death toll from the virus to 61. Most of the victims were believed to have had contact with infected birds.

City officials have promised to compensate private and commercial poultry owners for all birds they cull, and are waiting for an central government ordinance permitting them to carry out the work.

Sutiyoso has also promised to issue a decree to legalize the culls.

However, officials in the neighboring municipality of Bogor are protesting the plan as unrealistic and too expensive.

Herlien Krisnaningsih from the Bogor Agribusiness Agency said the central government's plan was an emotional, knee-jerk reaction.

"We are not ready yet to carry out the central government's call because it will be extremely costly, and we believe it will discourage officers in the field who are struggling to prevent the virus from spreading."

She said the administration would continue to combat bird flu in the city by educating people about its dangers, carrying out poultry vaccinations and relocating poultry farms away from populated areas.

The city had already spent about Rp 340 million (US$37,331) on stopping the spread of the virus, Herlien said.

"We are trying hard to prevent bird flu here but the statements made by ministers in Jakarta yesterday really discouraged our people who work hard in the field."

Herlien said she had not received any instructions to carry out the culls from the central government.

"There are some 1.3 million birds in the city area. If the compensation to be paid out is Rp 12,000 for each fowl, it means we will need about Rp 16 billion to annihilate them all," she said.

A city councillor, Teguh Riyanto, said the government's plan would hurt poultry farmers.

"But we'd better not panic because this will also affect the poultry business. We don't want all the chickens in this country slaughtered and replaced by imported fowls," he said.(02)

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