Tue, 08 Mar 2005

'Worst flood' hits Bekasi, destroys infrastructure

Wahyuana and Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta,Bekasi

Many residents of Bekasi had to take a day off work on Monday to clean thick mud from their houses following what is claimed to be the biggest ever flood in the municipality and upstream areas on Sunday.

The water in several areas had started to subside on Monday.

In the Pondok Gede Permai housing compound, for example, the water level had declined to about five centimeters.

On Sunday, the water level was up to 1.5 meters deep.

Bekasi Mayor Akhmad Zulfaih said the floods had also damaged the city's infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and levees in 17 subdistricts across the municipality.

The administration estimated that remedial work would cost about Rp 30 billion (US$3.3 million).

This figure excludes the losses suffered by residents. Sunday's flood affected over 7,000 houses, including a number of housing estates that had previously been regarded as flood-free areas.

Other housing estates located between the Malang and Citarum rivers were also flooded.

Meanwhile, over 650 residents of Kampung Melayu subdistrict, East Jakarta, were also forced to leave their homes again on Sunday as the floodwaters made an unwelcome return.

Last month, some 2,500 residents had to take shelter as the Ciliwung River inundated the area.

Reports say that the poor condition of the levees lining the Bekasi and Cikeas rivers in three areas -- Jatirasa subdistrict (200 meters), Bojong Rawalumbu (five meters), and Kota Baru subdistricts (15 meters), contributed to the huge flood, as well as the fact that continuous heavy rain fell for over 10 hours starting on Saturday.

Meanwhile, around 300 storekeepers on the ground floor of the Mal Mega Bekasi shopping center demanded that the building management pay them compensation for the losses they suffered due to Sunday's floods.

This time around, the traders refused compensation in the form of free promotion or discounted fees and service charges, which they had been given following previous floods. They also demanded that the management relocate them to the upper floor. feel free to cut

"We need cash to rebuild our businesses after the floods ... if the management fails to respond quickly, then we may take the case to court," a representative of the traders, Rizaldi, remarked.

The shopping mall is located on Jl. Ahmad Yani, near the Bekasi Barat toll gate, alongside Giant hypermarket, Metropolitan Mall I and II, Ramayana department store, Horison Hotel and Hero department store.

While much of the ground floor was completely under water, the parking lot, which is located above it, was also flooded.

The Malang river -- which is located about 200 meters away from the back of the shopping complex -- burst its banks at around 5 a.m. on Sunday.

The traders lost merchandise valued at between Rp 200 million and Rp 400 million per shop.