Indonesia needs three years to solve haze problem, says President Joko Widodo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspecting the aftermath of a recent forest fire during a visit in Banjarbaru, south Kalimantan province, Indonesia on Sept 23, 2015.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspecting the aftermath of a recent forest fire during a visit in Banjarbaru, south Kalimantan province, Indonesia on Sept 23, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo said he needs time to tackle the forest-burning, and that his citizens were also victims of the haze that is affecting the region.

However, it would take three years for results to be seen from efforts to end the huge annual fires, as it is "not a problem that you can solve quickly", Mr Joko said in an exclusive interview with the BBC.

More than 3,700 soldiers, nearly 8,000 police officers and four water-bombing planes in Indonesia have been deployed to put out the fires.

 

Singapore has offered assistance, but Indonesia has yet to accept the help. Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also said he was "more than willing" to help.

Indonesia is building water reserves in the forest and canals to get water to the hotspots, Mr Joko said, following a visit to Central Kalimantan to inspect the damage from raging fires last week.

Laws against forest-burning have also been enforced, he added.

On Tuesday, Indonesia's police chief Badrodin Haiti told Asean ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur that about 210 cases of forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra were being investigated, and 40 were ready to be taken to court soon

Singapore too have begun legal action against five Indonesian firms it believes are among the culprits behind the fires.

"You will see results soon and in three years we will have solved this," Mr Joko said.