Muddy Protest: Indonesian Woman Sits in Potholes to Highlight Poor Road Conditions

OV Digital Desk

Ummu Hani sitting in mud-filled potholes on a road in Merbau Mataram, Indonesia’s southern Sumatra province. Photo: Facebook/ummuhanii

South Lampung, Sumatra – How dirty would you get for a good cause? Ummu Hani, a 35-year-old Indonesian woman, has gone to extreme lengths to protest the poor state of roads in her province in southern Sumatra.

In early May, Ummu took to social media, sharing striking photos of herself sitting and lying down in mud-filled potholes on the roads in Merbau Mataram, a subdistrict of South Lampung. Dressed in a black headscarf and dress, Ummu is seen smiling, covered head to toe in mud, as she holds signs highlighting the “derelict” conditions of the roads and their “negative impacts on education, health, and economy.”

“For the longest time we asked relevant parties to carry out works to improve the road infrastructure. Because this road is one of the main access roads that links the village to the subdistrict,” Ummu wrote in her post.

Her creative protest was not just for show. Ummu began her campaign for better infrastructure after a harrowing incident where she fell off her motorbike, with one of her children, due to the poor road conditions. As a mother of four, she was driven by the hope that her post would spark constructive feedback and improve the quality of life for residents.

Using humor as her tool, Ummu’s May 3 post quickly went viral, resonating with many Indonesians who shared their own experiences with poor road conditions. One Facebook user, Dapit Saputra, noted how daily activities like going to the market were hindered by the roads. Another, Winda Ariyanti, expressed concern for schoolchildren and pregnant women who have to navigate the treacherous paths.

However, Ummu’s mud-filled protest drew criticism as well. Some observers accused her of seeking attention by tagging local government officials in her post. In response, Ummu stood firm, stating that her intentions were purely for the public good and that improving the roads would benefit the entire province.

Ummu’s protest underscores a significant issue in South Lampung. Despite her efforts, the Public Works and Spatial Planning Department of South Lampung regency acknowledged the poor road conditions but stated there are no plans for repairs this year due to budget constraints.

“All I want is for Lampung to be known for its diverse environment and culture, not its flaws as an undeveloped province,” Ummu said.

Her muddy protest has sparked a broader conversation about infrastructure and the power of social media in advocating for change, proving that sometimes, getting dirty is necessary to clean up the system.