SP/Fana Fadzikrillahi & Lenny Tristia Tambun
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has given the nod to a slew of proposals by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo for tackling the kind of severe flooding that crippled the capital last week and left large swaths inundated as of Sunday.
Speaking after a meeting with the president on Sunday, Joko said the central government supported his plans to relocate riverbank squatters and widen rivers to restore high water flow rates.
He added that the city administration had allocated Rp 250 billion ($26 million) from the city budget this year for normalizing the flow of the Ciliwung River, and another Rp 400 billion for the Pesanggrahan River.
Joko said a second program involved building a spillway linking the Ciliwung to the East Flood Canal. A major factor for the flooding in Central Jakarta last Thursday and Friday, which brought traffic and business activities in the city to a halt, was a breach in the West Flood Canal through which a branch of the Ciliwung flows.
Other programs that the city administration is pursuing is the building of reservoirs in the upstream areas of Ciawi, in Bogor, and Cimanggis, in Depok, as well as a pump system in North Jakarta to more adequately deal with large amounts of flood and rainwater runoff.
Joko also proposed a system of around 10,000 wells, ranging in depth from four to 200 meters, to be built throughout the city to help absorb high amounts of runoff and improve the quality of groundwater.
A final program involves building a high-capacity multipurpose tunnel running across much of the length of the city to channel floodwater directly out to sea.
Separately, Yudhoyono said he approved of all these long-term programs, but stressed that the priority was on addressing the current flood problem.
He said his administration had allocated Rp 2 trillion for flood-mitigation programs as well as to handle the immediate problems. Of that amount, Rp 500 billion will go toward clearing squatters from the banks of the Ciliwung, and widening and dredging the river.
“What’s really pressing right now is to build a spillway for the Ciliwung to the east, because we saw the damage that was done to the West Flood Canal as a result of the flooding,” the president said.
“Meanwhile, the East Flood Canal remained relatively empty. The system as it stands currently isn’t effective. The load needs to be portioned out better to ensure that nothing like this happens again.”
He added that a feasibility study had been carried out and the project would begin this year ahead of completion in 2014.
“There’s a lot of other work left to do, including building the Ciawi reservoir, which will require cooperation between the Jakarta and West Java administrations and the central government,” he said.
He added that it was important to put in place all the necessary long-term measures to prevent flooding on such a scale, pointing out that such floods could be expected on a five- to six-year basis.
The last floods on this scale to hit the capital occurred in 2007, and previously in 2002. Academics, however, remain split over whether such a cycle exists or the timing is just a coincidence.
“I’ve been to the affected locations, I’ve surveyed the Ciliwung River and seen the homes. From what I’ve seen, and from the reports that we have from the floods in 2007 and 2002, I believe it’s important for both the central government and the Jakarta administration to find a strategic solution, not a solution that deals only with that year’s flooding,” the president said.
“That way, we can at least significantly mitigate the impact of future flooding.”
Yudhoyono also warned that the effects of climate change could make the impact from future floods even more severe.
Meanwhile, most of the flood-hit areas across the city were recovering on Monday as floodwaters continued receding following a sunny weekend that was marred only by a brief shower. As of Monday morning, the water levels in all floodgates had returned to normal, according Arfan Arkilie, the head of the the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).
BPBD spokesman Bambang Suryaputra said that West Jakarta remained hardest hit by the flood, with 74,000 households affected and more than 19,000 people forced to evacuate from their homes.
In North Jakarta, an unknown number of households were affected, with the number of evacuees at around 12,900. In East Jakarta, 15,800 homes were affected and 6,800 people forced to flee.
In South Jakarta, nearly 6,000 homes were flooded but fewer than 400 people had to be evacuated. Some 2,100 households were inundated in Central Jakarta, forcing 1,200 people to evacuate.
Bambang said that although the situation was improving as the floodwaters receded, authorities would keep sending relief supplies to those staying at temporary shelters throughout the city.
While Saturday was sunny and Sunday was overcast with localized light showers, the weather agency is predicting more rain today in West, North and South Jakarta.
As the flood subsides, authorities are dealing with an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Dien Emmawati, the head of the Jakarta Health Office, said on Sunday that 22,000 people were reported to have fallen ill since Thursday, with most of them complaining of flu, coughing and skin irritations. Dien said health posts set up at the temporary shelters were working around the clock to treat residents.