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Jakarta Post

New Yogyakarta airport prepared to face tsunami, government claims

  • Riza Roidila Mufti and Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta and Yogyakarta   /   Thu, January 24, 2019   /   04:02 pm
New Yogyakarta airport prepared to face tsunami, government claims A police officer looks on as workers of state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I tear down a building in the vicinity of Glagah village, the location of the future New Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulonprogro, Yogyakarta, on Dec. 15. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

The government claims it has ensured the under-construction New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) would have a good system for mitigating natural disasters, shrugging off experts’ concerns that it would be prone to earthquakes and tsunami.

The new airport in Kulon Progo regency is located approximately 400 meters from the Indian Ocean coastline.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said in Yogyakarta recently that the government had involved experts from various institutions to develop a disaster mitigation system that can hold up against 8.8-magnitude earthquake and 12-meter tsunami.

“We have appointed experts from Japan, the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and we have measured that in an event of big tsunami, this airport would still exist. We have prepared the [disaster] mitigation,” he said.

He said the airport terminal buildings were designed to be tall enough to provide safe spaces for passengers during tsunami. Also, last December workers began installing five-meter artificial dunes and dense vegetation 300 meters from the coast between Glagah Beach and Congot Beach that are meant to reduce the impacts of waves.

Kulon Progo Regent Hasto Wardoyo said the disaster mitigation measures would cost a total of Rp 100 billion (US$7.07 million).

Previously, experts in a discussion in Yogyakarta questioned how prepared the new airport would be against disasters following recent devastation of Palu and cities in Central Sulawesi and Anyer in Banten caused by earthquakes and tsunami.

The experts warned about the five megathrust zones under the Indian Ocean at Enggano, the Sunda Straits, central West Java, East Java and Sumba that could lead to magnitude-8 earthquakes or stronger and tsunami.

In megathrust zones, edges of two tectonic plates converge, forcing one to slide underneath the other.

“Of the five [megathrusts], a central West Java and East Java megathrust earthquake may result in a 10- to 15-meter tsunami that could possibly affect the New Yogyakarta International Airport,” said Widjo Kongko, a tsunami expert at the Assessment and Application of Technology Agency (BPPT).

Widjo said tsunami experts and the public had not yet been clearly informed about the new airport’s disaster mitigation system.

“I am a tsunami expert and the public should have known about the study of the construction design,” he insisted.

Presidential Regulation No. 98/2017 on acceleration of the development of the New Yogyakarta International Airport required provincial and regional administrations to be responsible for constructing a tsunami defense system for the airport.

Minister Budi said the airport was 30 percent complete, he said he expected it would be 60 percent complete by April.

The airport, expected to be the main gateway for tourists to Central Java, is to initially have a 3,250-meter runway and almost 160,000 square meters for parking.

The airport is to accommodate a wide range of aircraft, from Boeing B777s to Airbus A350s, which would fly directly to several international destinations in Japan, China and Australia, said Polana B. Pramesti, the Transportation Ministry’s director general of air transportation.

While land clearing for the airport had sparked protests by local residents, Polana insisted that it was still on track to begin operations at the end of 2019.