For more than 100 years the coal mining dominated the growing city of Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, Indonesia, but the decline of the coal mining from 2001 on, forced the local government to search for alternative sources of income.
The year 2004 is a turning point of heritage conservation when several efforts have been taken to research an economic potential of former coal mining as a catalyst of city development. One of the efforts was a survey done by Dutch experts to identify and make an inventory of historical buildings and sites including the railway road.
In the following years, Sawahlunto Municipality has managed to transform the former coal mining into tourism attractions which stimulate other components such as accommodation and recreation facilities, local transportation network, revival of the railway road, opening of several museums and promoting the city through various mediums (films, books, postcards).
Nevertheless, a case of Sawahlunto is an exception in Indonesia with huge potentials of its industrial heritage inherited from the Dutch-Indies period. Most of these industrial heritage sites are under authority of the Ministry of State Owned Companies divided into 13 strategic sectors as follow:
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery
- Processing Industry
- Electricity, Gas, Steam/Hot Water and Cooling System
- Water Supply, Waste Management and Recycle, Disposal of Waste and Garbage Processing
- Major & Retail Trade, Reparation and Maintenance of Cars & Motorcycles
- Transportation and Storage
- Accommodations and Food & Beverage
- Information and Communication
- Financial Service and Insurance
- Real Estate
- Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Some industrial sectors are in transitions to adjust themselves into modern era and some stay as they are since the Dutch-Indies period without being capable to keep up with current demands. Assets of these industrial sectors are in abundant from large area of plantations, factories and offices in urban areas. It is important to address this issue before these assets disappear unnecessarily of decay and neglection.
The Pansumnet 2015 Gathering : Industrial Heritage at Stake will address issues of industrial heritage in Indonesia with a case study of Sawahlunto. During a three days gathering, experts, policy makers and researchers will exchange knowledge and experience how to get the best of industrial heritage potentials of Indonesia.
A case study of industrial heritage of Sawahlunto becomes main theme since it is not much discussed and applied yet in Indonesia. Many of industrial sites from the Dutch Indies period -mostly are plantations, mining and factories- face difficulties in adjusting themselves into modern times. There are a lot of questions from heritage networks in the country about this issue. How to find balance between conservation and economic benefit? What is the right way to reuse industrial site for current needs? What kind of expertise needed to explore an industrial site? Where to begin to exploit such a large industrial site?