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Jakarta Post

Rutte visits ‘Little Netherlands,’ pledging more help

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang   /   Wed, November 23, 2016   /  07:10 am
Rutte visits ‘Little Netherlands,’ pledging more help Closer look: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, accompanied by Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo (left) and Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono (right), inspects the Old Town in Semarang, Central Java, on Tuesday. Rutte’s visit is aimed at forging cooperation between the Netherlands and Indonesia, particularly in the area of infrastructure development. (Antara/R.Rekotomo)

The Netherlands will be heavily involved in the efforts to end the recurrent flooding in Semarang, Central Java, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during his visit to the provincial capital on Tuesday.

His government, Rutte said, was already involved in the easing of the classic problems faced by residents of Semarang, i.e. floods and the tidal flooding locally known as rob.

The involvement, he said, was manifested in the development of polders (dikes) that controlled the Banger River, using a flood-mitigation system already implemented in the Netherlands.

During his visit to Semarang, Rutte examined the Banger pump house then witnessed the signing of an agreement between Dutch Water Authority chairman Hans Ooster and Semarang Mayor Hendrar Prihadi.

Also attending the ceremony were Dutch Infrastructure and Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen and Indonesian Public Works and People’s Housing Minister M Basuki Hadimuljono.

Rutte said that seeing the polder system in Banger made him feel as if he was back home because it was exactly the same as implemented in the Netherlands.

“I hope the polders can be a model for many parties. We can also mutually learn from Indonesia in handling floods,” he said.

Meanwhile Ooster said he was proud that he could join the cooperation in dealing with flooding in Semarang in conjunction with Hendrar.

“This physical development is very important,” said Ooster, adding that what was more important was the next step. “I am glad that I can help realize the Dutch polder system in Indonesia with our 350 years of experience,” he said.

He also reminded Semarang people to always remember to be wary about land subsidence.

Schultz added that the cooperation between the Netherlands and Semarang in mitigating floods and tidal flooding started in 2001. “A polder-management agency like the one in the Netherlands is very important for Semarang. If we can help, we for sure will help,” she said.

Both parties also discussed the possibility of constructing an offshore sea wall to help deal with rob.

Apart from coping with rob, the Dutch government will also help Semarang city administration in managing the Old Town, which the Central Java provincial and Semarang city administrations have been trying to revive as a “Little Netherlands”.

In the Old Town, the entourage visited Blenduk Church, (the Immanuel Protestant Church) and the Oudetrap building in Srigunting Park. They then proceeded to the Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery, where they enjoyed an exhibition of Herman Thomas Karsten’s architectural works.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said that Rutte’s visit to Semarang was part of a number of cooperation agreements, including on the rehabilitation of the Old Town, trade and investment cooperation, water management, and transfers of technology from the Dutch.

Rutte then visited another Dutch architectural icon, the Lawangsewu building, built between 1904 and 1907 as the headquarters of the Netherlands-Indies Railway Company (NIS).

He also visited the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) at the Police Academy compound to highlight bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.

Earlier in the day, Rutte had a meeting with Basuki, Ganjar and Hendrar at the Wisma Perdamaian (Mansion of Peace), a building built in 1754 and formerly known as De Vredestein.

On Wednesday, Rutte is scheduled to meet President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and deliver a speech at the House of Representatives in Jakarta.

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