Sunday, February 15, 2015


Jakarta, Feb 15, 2015 (Antara) - The Jakarta Administration earlier claimed that the capital city was ready to face floods as the authorities had made better preparations for flood mitigation efforts.
       "We are better prepared now as compared to previous years. I have ordered the head of sub-districts in Jakarta province to dredge the river basin areas (to ease the flow of water into the sea)," Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok said in November 2014, expressing his optimism that Jakarta would be inundated for no longer than one day in case of flooding.        
   The city administration has conducted a variety of efforts to address the issue, including normalization of rivers, reservoirs and waterways, as well as the demolition of illegal buildings located along the banks of rivers and reservoirs.

        Jakarta's Public Works Office has reinforced the existing dams and also installed several water pumps, particularly in areas like North Jakarta that are prone to be the first to be struck by the floods.
         "Water pumps have been repaired and installed as a precaution against rising water levels that can cause flooding. The pumps can be operated optimally," Ahok assured.
         Jakarta is one of 274 districts and cities in Indonesia that have been identified as areas prone to floods and landslides.    
   "Jakarta, Banten, and West Java are among the regions prone to floods and landslides," Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on Feb. 11, 2015, after visiting flood-hit Kapuk in Cengkareng subdistrict, West Jakarta.
        Jakarta is notorious for  its floods during the rainy season. In January 2014, floods claimed 23 lives, displaced tens of thousands of people.
        The metropolitan city suffered material losses worth Rp20 trillion or US$2 billion  in 2013, and Rp5 trillion in 2014, as a result of floods.
        On February 8 and 9, 2015, floods affected 307 neighborhoods located in 97 urban villages in 33 sub-districts in the capital city, displacing some 5,986 residents, and inflicting losses worth at least Rp1 trillion.
         "Some 5,986 people are taking shelter in 14 locations. The number might increase because we are still waiting for more data from the field officers," the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated on Feb. 10. 2015.
         The BNPB reported that the floods affected 4,830 families comprising 15,517 people as their houses were inundated.
         Among the places affected by the floods in Central Jakarta were the Presidential Palace and the City Hall.
        Floods in Jakarta are not only due to the overflowing rivers following incessant heavy rains, but also as a consequence of the poor drainage system and bad land spatial planning.
       Governor Ahok, however, suspected that the flooding in the capital city was an act of sabotage.
       "This morning, I woke up at 2 a.m. because of the rain. When I checked the CCTV camera footage, I found that the one in Istiqlal was off. I suspected that the palace was flooded and that it could be an act of sabotage or a deliberate action. All waterways were functioning well, so flooding should have been impossible," Ahok noted on Feb. 9, 2015.  
      Earlier, when floods had  affected 36 locations in Jakarta following incessant rains on January 23, 2015,  Ahok also  believed that a sabotage caused the flooding in the capital city on that day.
        "Several days ago, there were heavy rains, but no flooding.   But, on Friday, there was a report about flooding in 36 locations.    I suspect sabotage because I saw that the water level in Katulampa was safe, the sea level was normal, and the pump houses were still functioning. The pump houses and sluice gates are monitored by CCTV cameras to prevent any wrongdoing," Ahok noted on January 26, 2015.
        In the meantime, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), who happened to be overseas when Jakarta was hit by floods, invited Ahok to discuss the handling and prevention of floods.
         "The governor has just sent me an SMS tax message saying that the State Palace is affected by floods. But I have not yet discussed it in detail. Probably I will invite him tomorrow," President Jokowi told reporters as he landed at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport, eastern Jakarta, on Feb. 10, after concluding his first ASEAN trip.
          He said that the Jakarta floods would be reduced fast if the construction of the Ciliwung River's tunnel that connects the river with the East Flood Canal had been completed.
         "Jakarta has always been hit by floods for tens of years but we will handle it with that ways. I will see later the progress of the Ciawi dam development and will also see when the River Ciliwung's tunnel could be finished," he remarked.
        Following a limited cabinet meeting led by the president on Feb. 11, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Nugroho urged the Jakarta governor to declare a flood emergency status for Jakarta.
         "In line with the regulations, it's the governor who has the authorities to declare a disaster emergency status. If the status is not declared, the funds could not be disbursed, while the public have cried for help," Sutopo Nugroho stated.
         In the meeting held in the palace, Governor Ahok said what had happened in Jakarta recently was just puddles of water. "The forestry and environmental affairs minister said there were puddles of water, not floods," Ahok said, declining the request for emergency status.
         Meanwhile, authorities in Jakarta planned to acquire more water pumps and strengthen dykes to tackle floods that hit the capital city frequently.
          "A number of infrastructure and facilities are currently under construction," Head of the Jakarta Water Management Office Agus Priyono said recently.
   The administration of Jakarta is accelerating efforts to elevate sea dykes and to install more water pumps, in accordance with the existing master plan on flood handling.
        "In downstream areas, we plan to install six big water pumps in river estuaries. These include the Kamal Pump, Angke Pump, Marina Pump, Karang Pump, Sentiong Pump, and Sunter Hilir Pump," Priyono affirmed.
        The installation of the pumps will commence this year, and is expected to be completed within two or three years. "The water pumps are expected to mitigate tidal floods that hit northern coastal areas in Jakarta frequently," he stated.
          Furthermore, to optimize efforts towards the prevention of floods, a number of dykes must also be elevated, he added. The dykes to be elevated will include those in Kamal, Tanjungan, Kali Asin, Luar Batang, RE Martadinata, Cilincing, and Marunda. The sea dykes in coastal areas in northern Jakarta will extend up to 32 kilometers.
         But, it seems that traditional measures to reduce negative impacts of floods, such as constructions or reinforcement of dykes, sea wall and dams alone, are not adequate.
          Environmentalists believed that there are other and potentially very cost-effective ways of achieving flood protection which profit from nature's own capacity to absorb excess waters.
         Environmental options for flood-risk management include restoring natural flows by realignment of coastal areas, or re-connection of rivers with their floodplain; restoration of wetlands which can store flood water and help "slow the flow" of flood waters; reservoirs in agricultural areas which can store flood water during flood events, and otherwise be high nature value areas; and urban green infrastructure such as green spaces, sustainable urban drainage and green roofs.
         "The solution to flooding is not only infrastructure but also ecosystem improvement," Program Director of the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Kehati) Teguh Triono said recently.
         Imbalance in ecosystem threatens the survival of a city. Floods that hit Jakarta are a concrete proof, he stated.
         "It is because there is an imbalance of biodiversity, particularly the ecosystem in Jakarta and the surrounding cities," he pointed out.
          In addition to President Joko Widodo's (Jokowi's) plans to build a tunnel from Ciliwung to the East Flood Canal and a dam in Ciawi, the ecosystem in Jakarta and suburban areas must also be improved, he noted.
          The government should provide sufficient funds for the improvement of river basin areas and the expansion of open and green spaces, he remarked.      
     Jakarta's green space area is currently less than 10 percent, while the Law No. 26 of 2007 requires that of the total area of any city, at least 30 percent should be green space.
           Kehati also believes that bamboo conservation along the Ciliwung watershed can be an alternative measure for long-term flood prevention.
        "Bamboo can be a long-term alternative solution to flood prevention in Jakarta," Kehati's Coastal Program Officer and Chairman of the Small Islands Basuki Rahmat said.
         In addition to preventing floods, bamboo is more environmentally-friendly than stereo foam and other materials.
         "If the Jakarta government prohibits restaurants from using stereo foam, then people living around the Ciliwung river will enthusiastically plant more bamboo saplings. This will also earn them some extra income," he affirmed.  ***4***

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