Last week when there was a bible study in my uni, a friend asked me what course that I am taking. “Planning” I said simply. “Is that master or undergrad?” she then continued asking. “Master” again I replied shortly. “I’ve never heard about it” she said innocently without paying attention to what I felt. “Well, yea, it’s not common, particularly for Asian students” I tried to explain. She then nodded and we discussed about the bible study topic.
That conversation was still in my head even when I was going home. “Why I take this course? Urban Planner is not a well known profession in my country” I said myself. “Urban plan is not something that is crucial to be considered when there is a development” I couldn’t stop thinking. “Most of blueprints only become formal documents that are not definitely used”, I finished complaining as entering my room.
The next day, I attended a Land and Environmental Law class. The lecturer asked us to analyse the LEP (Local Environmental Law) and the DCP (Development Control Plan) of a local council in New South Wales. It became the first and second assignment. “O my goodness, even regulations in my country I haven’t made comments or analysed it very detail”, I cried. But, no other choice, I had to do that to be able to pass the course!! Fortunately, those were group assignments. After making an appointment, I and the other group members met on a Saturday morning. Whole day we spent only to read the LEP and DCP. In Indonesia, LEP is just like a ‘Rencana Umum Tata Ruang Kota/Kabupaten’ and DCP is just like ‘Rencana Detail Tata Ruang Kota/Kabupaten’. Imagine, 8 hours only to understand the detail of those documents. Fortunately, we understood. Then we discussed. Even though our group didn’t get excellent mark, at least we knew what is in there. For sure, not too bad, isn’t it??
I tried to compare those documents with those in Indonesia. When I graduated from bachelor, I, three of my friends, and an urban planner (he is an expert), involved in composing Urban Plan of Pasuruan. I myself did Urban Plan of Beji, a city in Pasuruan. The documents that we created were not as detail as the LEP and DCP that I talked about. Very different!! The LEP and DCP were very detail and confidential. Yet, I remember one of the lecturers in my first uni said that most urban plans (blueprint) in Indonesia were not useful. But, I tried to think about it and asked myself “why is it?” Many urban plans are too ideal, cannot accommodate the dynamic situation of the urban areas, sometimes too old and are not revised because revision needs lots of fund. There are many potential and educated urban planners that are able to produced good and reasonable urban plans, but why it happens?
I tried to make analysis of that by looking back to what I was doing at the last time when I was involved in the composing urban plan of Beji. There are some things that become main factors of making this happen and these things relate each other. First, time really matters; I was involved when the time that the client which was Ministry of Public Works gave was almost deadline. This also relates with the integrity and dedication of the consultants to work honestly and wholeheartedly. Second, limited fund caused by corruption activities of the officials (it’s not secret anymore). This fund then becomes not enough to get as much as possible data/information needed. Third, lack of cooperation between consultants and officials. Many problems that consultants face in the process need cooperation from the officials. However, the officials often don’t care and let the consultants do their jobs alone, simply “it’s their business”. There are many other things that contribute to this problem. But the key of solutions not only in the hands of officials but also in the consultants’.
Urban plans should have been strict as well as useful in development activities, but unfortunately, there are still challenges to make it happen.