The Jakarta Post
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) will ensure it carries out its main tasks in the capital after Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama has assessed conditions and asked residents to heighten their awareness of possible flooding during the rainy season.
An assessment of real conditions in the field will be greatly needed as the rainy season enters its peak in January and February 2015.
This warning will serve as a legal basis for the agency to help the city administration take anticipatory measures to handle floods and minimize negative impacts.
BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press conference on Thursday that the agency would make all the necessary preparations to face the worst conditions after the city administration made an official announcement asking residents to heighten their awareness of flooding and the possible impacts.
'We will make all the necessary preparations, including aid in the form of food, clothes and medicine, for flood victims. We will also be prepared for weather modification to minimize rainfall on the mainland,' he said.
Sutopo said his agency had allocated Rp 8 billion (US$657,460) of this year's Rp 75 billion budget for weather modification.
'According to last year's experience, weather modification could reduce rainfall by up to 32 percent,' he said.
Asked about the alert status, Sutopo said it did not mean that Jakarta was in a state of emergency. 'The alert status is needed to facilitate coordination between BNPB and other relevant institutions, so we will be well prepared, better than in 2013 and early 2014,' he said, adding that the BNPB had prepared aircraft if it was asked to coordinate with the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry to modify the weather.
Sutopo said, however, his agency would request a meeting with the governor and his subordinates soon regarding flood mitigation in the capital.
According to the BNPB, 315 regencies and cities in Indonesia, home to at least 61 million people, were prone to disasters, especially flooding and landslides.
Jakarta is one of the provinces with the highest number of casualties: 23 people in 2014, up from 17 in 2013. The floods also caused Rp 5 trillion in losses in 2014.
Sutopo said that although the impact of the flooding was significant and frequent, the government still considered disaster mitigation as an afterthought, focusing on emergency response. 'After the disaster is over, the government usually forgets about it,' he said.
He said the government should think of a better approach to handle disasters and that reducing disaster risk was actually an investment.
The rainy season in the capital is expected to reach its peak in January. The city administration is expediting flood mitigation projects, including river normalization and construction of reservoirs and percolation pits in flood-prone areas.
Flooding has already begun to occur in the capital. Heavy downpours in upstream areas in Bogor and Depok inundated seven subdistricts in East Jakarta and South Jakarta, with floodwater depths ranging from 30 centimeters to 400 cm. Around 1,000 residents in Kampung Pulo and Cililitan in East Jakarta and Jati Rawa in South Jakarta were evacuated to safer areas.
Separately, Ahok said he had yet to see an emergency state that would prompt him to declare an alert status in the capital.
'I am waiting for the report from the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) prior to declaring the alert status,' he said.
'If it is an emergency, we will immediately announce the alert status,' he said.
BPBD head Bambang Musyawardana said the governor should receive an official recommendation from the BNPB before declaring an alert status. 'The BNPB also should conduct an analysis of the current situation to give the governor information to consider and provide recommendations on what actions should be taken,' he said.