Soapbox: publisher's perspective |

Borders, Boundaries, Barriers and Bottlenecks

Soapbox: Publisher's Perspective | 1 September 2020

There are many parts of the world which have belonged to one area, then another, then back to the first again as borders change. Alsace, which is currently part of France was German for a considerable period of its existence. The town of Berwickon-Tweed has changed lands between England and Scotland many times and while is currently part of England, the citizens all speak with Scottish accents! There are many examples like this.

Boundaries are funny things, they are meant to make life easier by defining the administrative area in which we live. So essentially these are politically drawn lines, not developed around people of the same race, culture or religion which would make them cohesive. Instead, they impose barriers between people who want to be together and force those who don’t to share their space! The partitioning of India into India and Pakistan, then later Bangladesh, still has ramifications today. Many of the straight line borders drawn in Africa by colonial powers left tribes divided and wars inevitable. These are borders as barriers to harmony.

Here in Jakarta, our borders are bothersome too as we are seeing the difficulties of uniting Jakarta with its otherwise seamless neighbors Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi and Bogor, who all have separate administrations, some even have two since there are municipalities and regencies (Kotamadya and Kabupaten) all with borders and boundaries.

But people can’t see these dividing lines, neither can diseases. The people who live in Depok and Bekasi often work in Jakarta and during this Covid-19 crisis have continued to cross the invisible lines between cities, bringing with them or taking home, their infections. But these areas all have different regulations, protocols and social distancing rules, meaning that the least affected areas become as vulnerable as the most since the borders are not barriers to viruses. Instead, we have bottlenecks to recovery.

Let’s hope the powers that be in Jabodetabek can agree to work together and we can all breathe easier soon. We don’t want our borders to become barriers and then battlegrounds.