Headlines

Govt targets quick completion
of underground water canal

Gas for free: Flood victims in Penjaringan, North Jakarta look to replace their empty cooking gas canisters with refilled ones provided free of charge by the state-owned gas and oil company PT Pertamina, on Monday. Floodwater in the area has subsided after almost a week. JP/P.J. Leo
Gas for free: Flood victims in Penjaringan, North Jakarta look to replace their empty cooking gas canisters with refilled ones provided free of charge by the state-owned gas and oil company PT Pertamina, on Monday. Floodwater in the area has subsided after almost a week. JP/P.J. Leo

The government has allocated Rp 700 billion (US$72.8 million) from the state budget to construct an underground water canal connecting the Ciliwung River and the East Flood Canal (BKT), setting a deadline of two months for completion.

The water canal will be around 1.5 kilometers long, running beneath Jl. Otto Iskandar Dinata, near the Statistics High School (STIS), to the flood canal section in Jl. DI Panjaitan, both in East Jakarta.

Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said on Monday that the canal project was one of the government’s moves to counter floods in the capital.

“Although the Ciliwung and Pesanggrahan rivers overflowed, water levels in the East Flood Canal are apparently still low. So it could take more,” Djoko said.

Djoko acknowledged that the government had discussed the grand plan long before, but had never made it a top priority until Thursday’s massive flood. He was optimistic that the plan would work.

He said that the line would be built underground to reduce the consequences of troublesome land acquisitions. The team was left with detailed measuring and design finalization, he said, and would finish the job within two months.

However, he pointed out that budgeting might encounter some problems as the construction had yet to be inserted into the ministry’s 2013 budget. He said there could be other ways to backup the plan, including by revising the budget or using the ministry’s unused funds from last year.

“Otherwise, we will start working on it in 2014,” he said.

On Monday, workers started working on the project at the flood canal. Not too many houses are locate near the area, making it easier for the government to acquire land affected by the project.

Jakarta has been hit by floods since Thursday, putting the capital under a state of emergency until Jan. 27. As of Monday, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded that 45,954 evacuees and a total of 245,119 residents had been affected by the flood. The most affected areas are in West Jakarta and North Jakarta with 22,315 people and 17,237 people fleeing their homes in each area.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has forecast that high intensity rainfall will hit Greater Jakarta until next week, while the rainy season will peak by March.

To support the anti-flood program, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has targeted 100,000 infiltration wells in the next five years. He pledged to shut down buildings that did not comply with the regulation.

To mitigate floods in Jakarta, Depok Mayor Nur Mahmudi Ismail said that the capital’s buffer zone could be effective as a water retention area, should the central government place the dredging of 24 lakes in the municipality as its priority.

“Depok is a transit of river flow from upstream Bogor to Jakarta. We have the water basins, but the Water Resources Directorate General of the Public Works Ministry should dredge the lakes and rehabilitate the rivers,” he said on Monday.

He said that sedimentation had reduced the lakes to only one fifth of their original capacity.

“If the government dredges the lakes to 5-meters in depth, it can add 5 million cubic meters to their water retention capacity currently 2.7 million cubic meters,” Nur Mahmudi said.

Meanwhile, head of Depok Water Resources Agency, Enco Kuryasa, claimed a reduction in the number of flood-prone areas in the municipality from 33 to 18 in the past five years.

He said that the improvement was due to construction of revetments and a drainage system in the flood-prone areas.

According to him, the areas still hit by floods were residential and built on water catchment areas back in the 1990s, or located below the river embankment.

Enco said the administration had allocated Rp 42 billion to restore infrastructure damaged in floods since November last year, including roads, dams and drains.

Depok will also distribute Rp 1 billion to each subdistrict administration to construct drainage systems.

“The subdistrict administration knows best when it comes to improving infrastructure to preventing floods,” Enco said. (fzm)

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