Wed, 08 Jan 2003

Administration ready to anticipate floods

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration claimed on Tuesday that it had made comprehensive preparations in anticipation of flooding expected to hit the capital this month, in particular flood relief and medical care.

City secretary Ritola Sasmaya stressed that the plan included preparing command posts and temporary shelters for possible victims who would be forced to flee their houses if they are inundated by floodwaters.

"We have studied the weaknesses related to what we had implemented during last year's flood, and we have created a system to help people during the next floods," said Ritola at a coordinating meeting to prepare for the floods.

The meeting was attended by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Yusuf Kalla, settlement and regional infrastructure minister Soenarno, social affairs minister Bachtiar Chamsyah, Governor Sutiyoso, and representatives from Banten and West Java provinces.

He said that the city administration had also set up a crisis center chaired by Governor Sutiyoso, while public order and people's protection agency head Firman Hutajulu would be in charge of daily operations.

According to Ritola, the city administration has appointed 60 people to be on duty at the crisis centers both at the provincial and municipal levels. They will have 24-hour hotlines to receive calls from flood victims.

In addition, as many as 72 members of the flood task force will be deployed in the five municipalities to monitor the flooded locations and provide assistance to the victims.

Minister Kalla said that the preparations were good on paper, but it remained to be seen if they would be helpful to flood victims.

Previously, the administration had revealed that it allocated Rp 2 billion to give free health services to the flood victims, including those who needed hospitalization.

The administration had also asked 101 hospitals in the city to give free treatment for the victims, saying that they could reimburse the bills with the administration later.

A number of hospitals have expressed their readiness to admit patients as long as they have a referral from a doctor at the flood health post. But it is likely that problems would still exist, particularly due to lack of information and the availability of doctors to give a referral letter to the hospitals.

Last year, many people complained that it was difficult to obtain a referral letter from the doctors as there were no doctors at the health posts.

Responding to the problems, Chalik Masulili said on Tuesday that the referral would not be necessary in an emergency.

"At a time when floods hit the city, such a requirement would not be necessary. We will inform the hospitals about it," Chalik told The Jakarta Post. Meanwhile, hospitals have not been informed yet of the change in procedure.

The General Hospital of the Indonesian Christian University's Medical School (RSU FK UKI) in Cawang, East Jakarta had issued guidelines for accepting flood victims, that requires patients to bring a referral letter from a flood health post doctor.

"If there are flood victims who come to the hospital, they may be served provided they have a referral from the flood health post's doctor," stated the letter, which was addressed to the head of the emergency unit with copies given to hospital officials.