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Swift Breeding Spots Relocated: Batam, Sumatra

Batam municipality plans to relocate swift breeding businesses to outlying islands to reduce noise pollution in the city and prevent the islands from being misused by foreign parties. In its proposed spatial plan for the 2008-2028 period, the municipality allocates Tonton, Setokok, Nipah, Ngenang, Rempang, Galang and Janda Berihas islands for businesses involved in breeding swifts, a kind of plainly colored songbird that resembles a swallow, for their edible nests.

Moving these businesses to outlying islands is seen as a way to make use of some of the idle islands around Batam, which are generally unsupervised, and prevent them from being used for illegal purposes by foreign parties.

Head of the spatial planning committee, Irwansyah, said recently the proposal on the swift breeding centers was first in response to complaints from public about the noise caused by swift breeding businesses located in urban areas according to Fadli.

“The noise from swifts in the middle of residential areas is disturbing. Then we thought, why not use the idle islands for this activity, and at the same time protect the outer islands which are far from any security surveillance,” said Irwansyah.

Batam is made up of 329 large and smaller islands, with only a few of them occupied. Batam Island, connected to six other islands by bridges, is the largest of the islands.

The Batam Swifts Breeding Association (APPBW) opposes the relocation of the businesses, saying the move could destroy the industry.

According to APPBW data, as many as 190 entrepreneurs have set up swift businesses in residential areas. Most have renovated shops to turn them into breeding spots.

The nests can be harvested every three months, yielding between 10 and 30 kilograms from each breeding place. A kilogram of the nests can fetch between Rp 15 million (approximately US$1,600) and Rp 20 million.

Association secretary Alfan Suheri said Batam planned to evict, not relocate, the breeding facilities.

“The administration should heed our aspirations as entrepreneurs. The costs needed to relocate the facilities and transportation to the islands is quite expensive,” said Alfan.

Batam municipal secretary Agussahiman said the decision to relocate the businesses to outer islands was final.

The municipality, he said, will forcibly evict any swift breeding businesses in Batam that refuse to relocate.

“Swift breeding structures in the middle of residential areas are very unpleasant. The noise that they emit is very disturbing and their presence is unsightly,” said Agussahiman.