Zakir Hussain – Straits Times
Banks and businesses in downtown Jakarta have resumed operations four days after the city’s main thoroughfares were rendered impassable by waist-deep flood waters.
But if the congested streets Monday morning were a sign of the city getting back on its feet after a largely rain-free weekend, the many street lamps that remained dark as workers returned home were a reminder of the repairs that have yet to be carried out.
Electricity and water supplies are still down or patchy, and several office buildings advised tenants to conserve energy and water as a major power plant in North Jakarta had malfunctioned.
At Plaza UOB, where two men were found drowned in the flooded basement, electricity had yet to be restored in the afternoon.
DBS Indonesia also sent text messages to customers saying its branches in Tanah Abang, Pluit, Kota and Glodok in North Jakarta would be closed on Monday.
Weather officials have warned that heavy rain expected this weekend could see a repeat of the deluge as it coincides with a full moon and rising tides. So far, 20 people have died and another 46,000 have been displaced.
Indonesian Employers’ Association chairman Sofyan Wanandi estimates that economic losses so far could hit 1 trillion rupiah (US$103 million), as trading stalls and the Pulo Gadung industrial area in East Jakarta is affected by an electrical shutdown after cables were flooded.
“Importers have started asking when the floods will recede,” Sofyan told The Straits Times.
“Distribution networks are down, retail and supplies are affected, and these losses accumulate.”
He added, “This is why I’m a little scared investments this year will be affected.”
On Tuesday, Indonesia’s investment coordinating board will announce record investment figures for last year, topping the US$19.3 billion in 2011.
Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat added that the floods might deter foreign investors if steps to mitigate their impact are not taken, Antara news agency reported.
“We should be wary as delays in delivery of goods and inaccuracies could see investor confidence drop,” he said.
But the extent of last week’s flooding, plus the gloomy weather outlook for the next two months, leave many worried that the economy will take a hit, especially when coupled with infrastructure shortcomings, labor and regulatory uncertainty and politicking ahead of national elections next year.
Officials continued to wade in with their take on the floods. Deputy Parliament leader Pramono Anung said the behavior of street hawkers played a part.
“Dregs from rawon and soto gravy settle and harden in drains,” he told reporters, in comments ridiculed online.
Singaporeans in Jakarta affected by the floods have also tried to help residents in need.
George Lee, 58, general manager and chef of Chatterbox restaurants which sell Singaporean food, was unable to visit two outlets in Emporium Pluit Mall and Mall Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta due to flood waters.
“I went by on the elevated toll road to look at how bad it was. It was like the sea,” he told The Straits Times.
On Sunday, he and his staff whipped up 1,000 packets of fried rice and noodles and handed them over to volunteers delivering food to affected residents.
Elsewhere, displaced flood victims have also asked for emergency schools for their children.
Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times