Flood mitigation underway, but floods may stay
The Jakarta Post
The realization of a flood-free Jakarta given the ongoing river revitalization programs of Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's administration looks promising.
If various large dredging projects run smoothly, in the next couple of years Jakarta will have restored the function of 13 rivers and dozens of reservoirs that play a large role in managing floodwater in the capital.
Hundreds of connecting waterways that for decades have been clogged by garbage will be able to deal with excessive rainwater.
The city will have thousands of absorption pits that can absorb rain water and reduce inundation, as well as functioning pumps at the ready in case of flooding.
Urban planning expert from Trisakti University, Yayat Supriyatna, said the administration was working on a maintenance that was supposed to be carried out annually two or three decades ago.
'Throughout 2013, there were many efforts to demolish illegal buildings that disturbed the drainage system. It showed the city's commitment to dealing with the clogged drainage system,' he said.
He also praised Jokowi's new approach of not giving compensation but relocating squatters to low-cost apartments.
However, Yayat said, the river dredging would not be enough to resolve the flood problem because the city had a larger number of residents who produced a large volume of garbage and suffered from land subsidence.
Efforts from the administrations of Bogor and Depok in West Java to improve their respective areas were also crucial as they also contributed to inundation in Jakarta, he said.
'It's time for the city to place a greater focus on encouraging public participation. Educate people to stop littering in waterways, plant more greenery, take care of drainage and make more absorption pits,' he said.
Hydrogeologist Fatchy Muhammad from the Indonesian Water Society's research team said the city was on the right track to conserve water by constructing thousands of absorption pits. However, the program lacked planning and technical consultation.
'The pits should be placed near the catchment area instead of sporadically located,' he said.
He added the city could also encourage residents to harvest rainwater, which could reduce water runoff and be used for various washing purposes.
'The water problem in Jakarta is not just flooding. We have to consider the needs of the next generation because one day, water will be an expensive necessity,' Fatchy said.
This year, the city set Rp 2.5 trillion (US$205 million) in the 2013 city budget to fund flood mitigation projects, including dredging projects and the construction of around 2,000 absorption pits.
Pluit reservoir in North Jakarta and Ria-Rio reservoir in East Jakarta became the highlights of dredging work in eight reservoirs this year. The capital is home to 76 dams of various sizes, some of which have already narrowed due to sedimentation and poor maintenance.
The city has succeeded in relocating 420 families along the Pluit reservoir to the low-cost apartments of Marunda, Muara Angke and Muara Baru in North Jakarta, with rent ranging from Rp 150,000 to Rp 250,000. Residents can now even enjoy sections of the Pluit reservoir that have been transformed into park areas.
The dredging project in Pluit, however, hit difficulties when the contractor failed to meet the governor's work target.
Meanwhile, the Industry and Energy Agency could only meet 70 percent of the target to make around 2,000 absorption pits because partner contractors were not well prepared for the project. In early December, the contractors ran out of pipes measuring 12 inches, which halted the work.
Jokowi said his subordinates could learn from the experiences and prepare earlier for the city's programs in 2014.
He proposed the continuation of the flood mitigation program in the 2014 budget draft early in December, but to date, the City Council had not deliberated it.
On the other hand, more dredging projects are set to commence soon. By the end of 2013, the administration and the central government had kicked off a two-year dredging project in major rivers and some dams, using a $150 million loan from the World Bank.
The Public Works Ministry has also inked project contracts to regulate the flow of the Ciliwung River and construct a tunnel connecting that river with the East Flood Canal (KBT).
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