Stand by for a messier Jakarta
If you think that traffic in Jakarta is bad now, then just wait.
The city is set for an even messier month in November as residents brace for an unusually intense rainy season that will be exacerbated by thousands of visiting athletes and officials for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Torrential rains hit the southern part of Greater Jakarta on Monday, causing Krukut River to overflow and flooding hundreds of houses in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta, in waters up to two meters deep.
More than 1,200 people have been evacuated to shelters or to the homes of relatives.
Jakarta Administration secretary Fadjar Panjaitan told reporters at City Hall that officials had been caught off guard by the unexpectedly heavy downpour. “We didn’t expect that localized rain could cause flooding in the area.”
The city recorded more than 100 millimeters of rain an hour during the downpour on Monday, much more than the 5 millimeters to 10 millimeters an hour typically recorded during rainstorms.
As he readied for an official trip to France, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told Jakarta officials and residents on Monday to be ready for possible flooding.
“We know that a big flood has hit Thailand. We must not underestimate [the weather],” Yudhoyono said.
The President asked Vice President Boediono and Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo to manage flooding in the capital while he attended UNESCO meetings and the G20 Summit.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that Indonesia would experience 70 percent more rain than normal this season due to the La Niña climate phenomenon known.
La Niña is associated with cooler-than-normal temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, in contrast to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which is associated with warmer temperatures.
A more intense rainy season will worsen already horrendous traffic in the city as the Jakarta Public Works Agency has yet to finish a drainage system repair project at 84 hot spots, most on city streets, across Jakarta.
Adding to the situation is a stalled a culvert construction project on Jl. Jend. Sudirman that has led to days of congestion on one of Jakarta’s busiest thoroughfares.
The project has blocked one of the road’s slow lanes with heavy machinery, which has been idling unused on the street since early October.
A motorcyclist, Prasetyo Tri Harijanto, filed a complaint with the Jakarta Police after he was severely injured by a fallen roadwork barrier on Jl. Jend. Sudirman last week.
The Jakarta Public Works Agency said it would deploy more workers to install precast culvert boxes and complete resurfacing of the road before the Southeast Asian Games begin on Nov. 11.
More than 3,700 athletes, 1,800 officials, and 1,100 are expected to stay in 54 hotels in the central business district during the Games, including the Hotel Mulia, the Hotel Atlet Century Park, the Grand Sahid Jaya, the Hotel Maharaja Jakarta and the Hotel Mercure.
The Games are expected to host events at 24 venues throughout Greater Jakarta, including the Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, South Jakarta; Lebak Bulus Stadium in South Jakarta and the Rawamangun Velodrome in East Jakarta.
Organizers will hold soccer matches, expected to attract the largest crowds, at the Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan.
The city and police will deploy hundreds of personnel to direct traffic at intersections around the Games’ venues and hotels.
Street protests, culvert construction, a fire and heavy rains led to monstrous gridlock in Jakarta on several occasions last week, forcing motorists to spend hours to get to their destinations.