Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo warns officials that they will be fired if they fail to deal with forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo.
Jokowi said he also promised government funds to supply sophisticated equipment such as drones to help deal with the forest fires.
“I have contacted the army commander and the police chief to inform them that they will be replaced if they fail to resolve the forest fires.
“Don’t underestimate the hot spot, it’s just a small fire and don’t wait until it gets bigger,” he said during a coordinated meeting addressing forest fires in the presidential palace on Thursday.
The cause of the forest fires is said to have occurred when farmers started burning to clean the land during the dry season.
But the fire spread uncontrollably and caused haze problems to spread to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.
Indonesia recorded the highest number of hotspots this year since a devastating fire in 2015 in addition to global pressure to stop the leaching and burning of oil palm and pulp.
The fire is considered a yearly problem in the summer, but has worsened in recent weeks.
Jokowi said the forest fires in 2015 caused financial losses of more than US $ 15.5 billion, affecting 2.6 million hectares of land.
“This should not happen again,” he said.
The Indonesian government has deployed thousands of troops and police to quell forest fires after declaring an emergency in six provinces in Sumatra and Borneo.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Agus Wibowo said the rising number of hotspots with 124 of them was considered strong enough to cause a nationwide fire.
Wibowo said the government had declared an emergency in Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Jambi, South Kalimantan and Central Borneo with flammable peatlands.
Accordingly, the authorities deployed 5,679 additional members to five territories through cooperation between the military, police and mitigation agencies.
In addition, it also deployed aircraft capable of performing water bomb operations. In Riau, the disaster authorities provided 17 helicopters and another 10 assisted by private companies, the military and the forestry ministry.