JAKARTA • The Indonesian government is determined to carry out all necessary measures to prevent forest and land fires from spreading on the island of Sumatra, with the Asian Games to start on Saturday.
The Indonesian capital Jakarta, which yesterday welcomed the Games torch after a month-long journey across the country, together with the South Sumatra city of Palembang, are hosting the Aug 18-Sept 2 Games.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto held a meeting on Tuesday with relevant officials to discuss measures to address the potential increase in hot spots, as the Games are taking place during the dry season.
"All regions are prepared to mitigate potential forest fires," he said.
"We need to work hard to ensure that South Sumatra will be haze-free."
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency detected 169 hot spots in Sumatra on Tuesday, with 47 hot spots in South Sumatra alone.
The province of Riau recorded an increase in hot spots to 90 from 65 the previous day, while there were 11 hot spots in Jambi and 55 hot spots in Bangka Belitung.
Mother nature is not the only thing worrying officials, with the administration in Jakarta deploying hundreds of officers to ensure that the area surrounding a Games venue is free of vendors selling cattle for Hari Raya Haji.
Pulomas in East Jakarta is where the Games' equestrian venue is situated, and the administration has promised that the vicinity will be cleared of people hawking animals for slaughter during the event.
"Last year, there were numerous livestock vendors around here," said resident Jamaludin.
"This year, they're not allowed to run their business within a 3km radius around the venue."
Officers from the East Jakarta Public Order Agency were spotted patrolling the area on Tuesday.
"We've deployed 250 officers to safeguard East Jakarta," said agency head Yani Wahyu Purwoko, who also revealed that security measures were in place for the nearby Jakarta International BMX Track area and the Jakarta International Velodrome in Rawamangun.
East Jakarta Fisheries, Agriculture and Food Security official Irma Budiany added that the prohibition of livestock sales was aimed at preventing the spread of anthrax among horses at the Games.
Meanwhile, officials are hoping to capitalise on home advantage and a range of new disciplines to break into the top 10 in the medal table for the first time since 1990.
The 45 countries will compete in 40 sports and 67 disciplines, including new events like bridge, jetskiing and roller skating and Indonesia, with a population of about 260 million, is fielding 938 athletes across the whole sports programme.
It aims to win at least 16 gold medals - four times what it brought home from Incheon, South Korea, in 2014. Its previous record was the 21 it won the last time the Games were held in Jakarta in 1962.
"All athletes have prepared well. Let's pray they remain at their top performance to present an achievement that will make Indonesia proud," Vice-President Jusuf Kalla was quoted as saying on the cabinet secretary's website.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE