Rally, rush-hour rains paralyze Jakarta
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Once more into the breach: Vehicles brave a flooded section of Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta on Wednesday evening. A brief but heavy downpour brought more flooding and horrendous traffic across the capital. JP/P.J. Leo
A massive labor demonstration and torrential rush-hour rains resulted in exceptionally horrendous traffic on the streets of Jakarta on Wednesday.
Thousands of workers from the Indonesia Metal Workers Federation marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the State Palace in Central Jakarta, forcing traffic police to arrange a detour.
The workers demanded that regulations increasing the regional minimum wage that recently came into force be implemented immediately.
The rally led the Transjakarta Management Agency (BLU) to temporarily halt service on Corridor 1 between Blok M and Kota and on Corridor 6 between Ragunan and National Monument (Monas).
Meanwhile, a torrential downpour that began around 3:30 p.m. inundated the area around Jl. MH Thamrin and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to a depth of 20 centimeters on Wednesday, evoking memories of the flooding in January that left dozens dead and thousands displaced.
Unusually severe gridlock followed over the next several hours throughout the city as commuters sought to find a way home or to other places.
Ahmad, who said that he was going from Jl. Merdeka Selatan to Jl. Jati Baru, said he was forced to return to his initial place after Jl. Budi Kemuliaan was flooded.
“I saw a lot of motorcyclists got stuck in the water on Jl. Budi Kemuliaan, so I took a turn and waited for the water to recede,” he said.
Ahmad was one of hundreds of office workers who were seen braving flood waters in front of the iconic Sarinah shopping mall on their way home. The nearby culinary corridor of Jl. Sabang was also inundated, leaving cars stranded.
Inundation led police to reroute traffic on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat to through the Monas area to reach Jl. Merdeka Selatan.
Floods as high as 60 centimeters near Kuningan and Jl. Gatot Subroto also disrupted traffic well into the evening, although the water had begun to recede as of 6:30 p.m.
The Jakarta Police’s Traffic Management Center reported congestion in several other parts of the city, including in front of the Citraland shopping mall in West Jakarta; a major three-way intersection in Mangga Besar, West Jakarta; and on Jl. Salemba, Central Jakarta, headed to Matraman in East Jakarta.
Many Transjakarta passengers had their trips disrupted when buses could not traverse the Senayan traffic circle in Central Jakarta, Kalideres in West Jakarta and Pulogadung in East Jakarta.
Meanwhile, the Tanah Abang railway station halted operations after railroad tracks were inundated.
“All routes to and from Tanah Abang were stopped [for flooding] for three hours from 3:30 p.m. All passengers will be able to obtain a refund of their tickets or use themfor the next trip,” said Hadi Wibowo, an officer at the Tanah Abang station. The station resumed operations at 6:30 p.m.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that the water levels of most of Jakarta’s 13 rivers were still normal as of Wednesday evening, despite the floods.
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo left City Hall at about 4:30 p.m. to check the situation in parts of the capital.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned that medium to heavy rain could be expected in Greater Jakarta for the next three days.
“People need to stay alert this month, because the rainy season usually peaks in February and may persist until March,” BMKG spokesman Hari Tirto told The Jakarta Post.
BMKG has opened two hot line numbers, 0216546315/8, for people looking for information about floods.
The agency also sends warnings on floods through its Twitter account @infoBMKG.