Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo welcomed the approval of two dam construction projects in West Java on Monday expected to reduce the amount of water flowing downstream to the capital by 40 percent upon their completion as significant swaths of Jakarta remained flooded following the weekend’s heavy rains.
“I think [the dams] will help us tackle the root of the problem,” Joko said.
Days of heavy rain left Jakarta and its satellite cities inundated with floods, killing 15 and displacing more than 64,000 across the region in the first major event of the rainy season to hit the capital. The central government has worked for months to address the annual floods, a headache for Jakarta residents and a serious drain on the capital’s economy, in the lead-up to the rainy season, demolishing illegally built villas and dredging several rivers in an effort to mitigate flooding.
But, so far, the measures had a limited effect on the situation in Jakarta. Water levels at key flood gates outside the capital hit critical levels on Friday as the torrential rains reached their peak. By Saturday large sections of the capital were under water, with the largest concentrations located in the city’s eastern and northern neighborhoods, leaving places like the inundated Kelapa Gading to cope with some Rp 40 billion ($3.3 million) in losses per day.
Rain water in West Java flows downstream to capital on the way to the Jakarta Bay, filtering through tons of floating garbage and the refuse of illegally constructed homes before overwhelming the capital’s inadequate infrastructure. The greater Jakarta metro area has a population of some 28 million but lacks a modern sewer system or adequate drainage along main arteries. Regardless, issues upstream, in the cities of Bogor and Bekasi, have been blamed as the root cause of the floods. The capital has responded by funneling an undisclosed amount of “compensation” funds to governments in West Java and Banten to help Joko’s administration make good on a promise to tackle the city’s annual floods.
On Monday Joko met with West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan and central government officials at an office near the Katulampa Dam, in Bogor, West Java, to discuss the construction projects. The parties reached an agreement on Monday for the construction of two new dams — the Ciawi and Sukamahi dams — to begin next year.
The Jakarta governor said he hoped it was the last meeting he would have to attend regarding the matter, saying it was “time for real action.”
The central government will fund the construction of the dams while the Jakarta administration floats the cost of land acquisition. The dams are still in the design phase, so the cost of each project remained unknown on Monday, Muhammad Hasan, the director general for water resources at the Ministry of Public Works, told reporters shortly after the meeting concluded.
“We will add infrastructure by building two new dams along the Ciliwung river, namely the Ciawi Dam and the Sukamahi Dam,” Hasan said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2015 and the dams, upon their completion, will be handed over to be run by local governments in Bogor and Bekasi. The officials also revived a plan to build a 1.2 km-long tunnel to divert part of the Ciliwung River to the nearby Cisadane River — which misses the capital and flows through Tangerang, Banten, on its way to the bay.
The proposal aims to reduce the level of water flowing through the capital, but it still hinges on approval by Tangerang officials, Hasan said.
“[The tunnel] will divert some 200 cubic meters of water [per second] from the Ciliwung to the Cisadane,” he said. “We still need approval from Tangerang, though; as nobody from Tangerang appeared at today’s meeting.”