City needs half of its
budget to build proper

The city administration needs Rp 11 trillion (US$1.11 billion), or roughly half of its 2009 budget, to build a proper sanitation system for its residents, an official says.

But the expense is justified as less than 1 percent, or about 560 hectares or of the total area of Jakarta, is equipped with an efficient sewage system, said Firdaus Ali, a member of the city’s water regulatory board.

“The rest of the people in Jakarta simply dump their domestic waste into the city’s river. Jakarta is literally a megalopolis standing on a pile of doo-doo,” Firdaus said in a discussion on pollution.

He said the only area of Jakarta that had a proper sewage system was the city’s so-called golden triangle, the area within city thoroughfares Jl. Jend. Sudirman, Jl. MH Thamrin, Jl. HR Rasuna Said and Jl. Gatot Subroto.

“That section of the city alone produces 200 tons of wastewater per day. Imagine the rest of the city dumping wastewater into the river because we don’t have a proper sewage system,” he added.

He added that only 27.2 percent of residents had access to clean water, which came mostly from
the Jatiluhur dam in Purwakarta, West Java.

“In other words, if anything happened to the Jatiluhur dam, the city would be left with nearly no access to clean water. This city would be a wasteland,” he said.

The Rp 11 trillion, he said, would be used to install piping from all homes, connecting them to newly created Wastewater Treatment Facilities (IPAL). The treated water would then be channelled into the city’s rivers.

His comments came amid the city’s drafting of its spatial master plan (RTRW) for 2010–2030.

The city administration has only been able to set up three sewage treatment plants, located in Setiabudi in South Jakarta, Pulo Gebang in East Jakarta, and Duri Kosambi in West Jakarta.

Other than the aforementioned areas, the rest of the city disposes of wastewater using self-maintained septic tanks, or by directly dumping domestic waste into rivers.

Meanwhile, Jakarta’s dense population forces residents to build wells too close to their septic tanks. Some 165,000 residents suffered from diarrhea last year, according to data from the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).

Moreover, World Bank data shows poor sanitation has cost the country’s economy $6.3 billion per year since 2006, or the equivalent of 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP.

“With all the pollution in this city, we are very likely to miss the UN-sanctioned MDG [Millennium Development Goals] target,” said Umar-Fahmi Achmadi, a professor of community health at the University of Indonesia, who was also present at the discussion.

The MDG target is to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015.

Firdaus said it was not too late for the administration to completely revamp the sanitation system, something it had nearly done in 2002.

In 2002, the city came close to implementing a massive makeover of its sewerage system worth $5.3 billion when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with an Australian company.

However, the deal fell through after the company, Global Grid, and the administration, failed to agree on the actual starting date of the planned 25-year project, and on Global Grid taking over all of the assets of PT PAL, the city-owned sewage treatment operator.

“The administration simply needs to show its commitment to creating a better sanitation system,” he said. “When the city has shown its commitment, everybody will follow.”

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