Wed, 09 Mar 2005

Flood gives sinking feeling to traders

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

It was far from business as usual at Mal Mega Bekasi shopping complex on Tuesday, with floodwater inundating the center since early Sunday.

Floodwater on the ground floor was still up to one meter deep.

One of the 600 traders in the mall, Alay, 45, said the 2.5- meter-deep flood on Sunday had destroyed his merchandise -- mostly electronic goods.

The traders, he said, were demanding that the building management company, PT Karsindo Utama, pay them compensation.

"It is stated in our contracts that the ground floor will not be affected by the annual flooding in Bekasi," he was quoted as saying by Antara.

On Tuesday, municipality pump trucks were still pumping out water from around the mall.

Meanwhile, the building management announced that the mall, the biggest in Bekasi, would be closed indefinitely.

PT Karsindo director Gunarso said he hoped that people would understand that the flood was an act of God.

"However, we are responsible and will pay them compensation after we calculate the extent of the losses," he said.

Sunday's flood, considered the biggest ever in the municipality and upstream areas, not only hit the shopping mall, which is located at the Bekasi Barat toll gate -- alongside Giant hypermarket, Metropolitan Mall I and II, the Ramayana and Hero department stores, and the Horison Hotel -- but also residential areas.

People living in the Jaka Kencana housing complex in Pekayon demanded that the administration fix the levees lining the Bekasi and Cikeas rivers, whose poor condition they said contributed to the huge flood, besides the fact that continuous heavy rain fell for over 10 hours starting on Saturday.

"These embankments were built two years ago but now they are badly cracked ... We have frequently told the administration to fix them, but our pleas always fell on deaf ears," Mustafa, a local resident, was quoted as saying by Tempointeraktif.com.

"We don't want to have another huge flood like Sunday's," he added.





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