JUST ANOTHER FLOOD: A student wades through water flooding the grounds of state high school No. 8 in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta. The school has been well-known for years for two main reasons: Its academic achievements and its annual flood. (JP/J. Adiguna)
Despite the city administration's claims to a grand flood-prevention master plan, Jakartans are wondering whether this rainy season they will once again be sharing their homes and streets with inches - or metersof water.
"We are doing our best," Pitoyo Subandrio, head of the Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Bureau at the Public Works Ministry, told The Jakarta Post recently.
About 40 percent of Jakarta sits in low-lying areas and is therefore subject to floods during high tides. The city also has 13 rivers running through it from surrounding administrative areas such as Bogor, Depok and Bekasi in West Java, and Tangerang in Banten.
"Our priorities this year are accelerating the construction of the East Flood Canal and the revitalization of the West Flood Canal, and dredging the rivers and lakes," Pitoyo said, adding that about 15 kilometers of the East Flood Canal had already been dug and concreted.
The East Flood Canal, ultimately to be 23.5 kilometers long and between 100 and 300 meters wide, will function as a shortcut to direct six major rivers that run through Greater Jakarta - Cipinang, Sunter, Buaran, Jatikramat, Cakung and Blencongto the sea.
The project, which is designed to provide relief for a 270-square-kilometer flood-prone area in East and North Jakarta, has been hampered since 2001 by land acquisition problems.
"Land acquisition by the city administration should at the latest be completed by April 2009, so we can then pursue construction of the remaining areas," Pitoyo said.
As of October, 734 lots of land in East and North Jakarta, of the total 4,725 lots marked for the project, were yet to be acquired.
The canal, whose total cost is estimated at Rp 4.9 trillion (US$405 million), is scheduled to be completed in 2011. The original target was 2007.
The Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Bureau is also working on expanding the 88-year-old West Flood Canal from its current capacity of less than 400 cubic meters up to 800 cubic meters by building up the concrete banks and dredging its bottom. The west canal stretches 17 kilometers from Manggarai in South Jakarta to Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta.
"So far we have completed 40 percent of the west canal revitalization work," Pitoyo said.
Twenty-one lakes and 11 rivers in the Greater Jakarta area were also dredged this year, including Ciliwung, Pesanggrahan, Mookervart, Angke, Cisadane, Bekasi, Cikeas, Cileungsi, Cirarat and Tengah.
"Currently we are working on a routine for dredging the rivers and canals," said Budi Widiantoro, deputy head of the city's public works agency in charge of the maintenance of the flood mitigation system.
Targeted for the routine project are 12 canals and rivers, which range in length from 467 meters to 3,533 meters.
"We are prioritizing spots that are heavily clogged with silt or garbage. We are not dredging the whole length of the canals and rivers," Budi said.
Next year, the administration will dredge and revitalize 13 major rivers, in a project funded by a US$150 million World Bank loan and expected to finish in 2012. The 13 rivers are now shallow because of sediment laid down during the past 30 years of neglect.
The sporadic nature of the administration's flood mitigation programs is regrettable, said Basah Hernowo, the director of forestry and water resource conservation at the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas).will be effective only if it is done systematically, not only in the downstream area but also in the upstream area because sediment is usually carried by the upstream current."
According to Basah, the city administration should cooperate with surrounding administrations in terms of environmental conservation of the upstream territory. Such cooperation could take the form of joint law enforcement to limit property developments in upstream areas and prevent illegal settlements along the banks of rivers and canals, as well as restoring green spaces.
It is estimated 70 to 80 percent of illegal settlements are built along the river banks between Depok and Manggarai.
"The urban planning regulation that bans any settlements within 50 square meters of the river banks must be enforced," Basah said.
The drainage network must also be looked at, he said.
"All micro drainage systems from residences, for example, must be linked to the macro drainages. This is not the case in Jakarta, where either the connection is blocked with silt or there is no (micro to macro) link at all." He said the administration would be better off constructing more polder systems than creating more lakes or adding more water pumps, which served only as a mid-term solution.
A polder system is a water reservoir with attached sluice gates and water pumps, which will automatically drain the polder once the water reaches a certain height.these must be integrated," Basah said.
And for the crucial issue of tidal floods, the administration should raise the height of the dikes along the North Jakarta coastline.
"The key to successful flood mitigation is a shared commitment between Jakarta and surrounding administrations," he said.is the city administration's commitment to stick to the flood mitigation master plan at any cost."