Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Canal construction hampered by land clearance

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With President Megawati Soekarnoputri is scheduled to officiate the construction of the East Flood Canal today, Jakarta administration is still having a headache in land clearance for the project.

Head of the Jakarta Public Works Agency IGKG Suena said on Wednesday that the administration has so far could only cleared 10 percent of a total 400-hectares of land affected by the project.

"We have yet to find any scheme on how to clear the lands regarding the owners' demand of compensation," he told the press after explaining the project to Governor Sutiyoso.

Suena said that the administration is currently having a serious problem in setting the compensation of the lands since the owners demanded higher price than offered. The administration refers to the price in the selling price of taxed properties (NJOP) set by the ministry of finance's director general for taxation.

The NJOP reveals that the price of land in the areas affected by the project varies from Rp 300,000 (US$36.6) to Rp 800,000 per square meter. The residents have demanded a higher price and some of the request even double the NJOP.

The East Flood Canal together with the existing West Flood Canal will create a half-circle-like canal which will function to take in water from 13 rivers in the city, which originate in the highlands of West Java.

The 23.5 kilometer-long and 100 to 300 meter-width East Flood Canal lies from Cipinang in East Jakarta to Marunda in North Jakarta.

Suena estimated the administration, tasked only to clear the land, needs some Rp 2.47 trillion fund only to clear the 400- hectare lands. A release from the directorate general for water resources at the Ministry for Resettlement and Regional Infrastructure showed a different figure for the land clearance which is Rp 2.186 trillion.

The central government will finance the 7.5-kilometer construction with the budget of Rp 1.938 trillion. The remaining 16-kilometer construction will be financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in loans. However, the figure from the administration is different as it estimates the construction will cost Rp 2.527 trillion.

The building of the canal is expected to control the annual floods that inundate many parts of the capital.

The demand to build the canal rose greatly following the massive floods in February last year. At least 31 people were killed in the calamity and 380,000 people became homeless.

The existing West Flood Canal, which is 14-kilometer long from Manggarai in South Jakarta to Penjaringan district in North Jakarta was constructed in 1924 by the Dutch colonial government. It also needs to be upgraded as it has become very shallow.

Sutiyoso said on Wednesday that his administration was ready to negotiate with land owners to reach reasonable land price.

"We will not stick to the NJOP but we also hope that the people will not demand much higher price since the East Flood Canal project is very important in resolving floods in the city," said Sutiyoso, who claimed that he was ready to resign after last year's floods.

Basic fact of East Flood Canal

1. The East Flood canal refers to Master Plan for Drainage and Flood Control of Jakarta created by Nedeco in 1973. Detail design was held by Nikken Nippon Koei in 1990 and 1993 and JICA study in 1997.

2. The canal will accommodate water from five rivers in eastern part of Jakarta: Cipinang, Sunter, Buaran, Jatikramat and Cakung rivers.

3. Water catchment area covers 20,074 hectares.

4. Once the canal's construction is finished, it will protect some 15,401 hectares or 25 percent from the total territory of Jakarta from floods.

5. The project will be completed within seven years.

6. It will also function for water transportation.