Mon, 10 Feb 2003

City allocates more money for flood projects

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration has increased the allocated funds for flood-related programs to Rp 355 billion (US$39.4 million) this year from Rp 250 billion last year, though this is still not enough to finance the programs.

The head of the City Public Works Agency, IGKG Suena, said on Friday some Rp 65 billion of the 355 billion, which will come from the 2003 city budget, would be used for the east flood canal project.

"We are still hoping the central government will fulfill its promise to help finance the (east flood canal) project," Suena told The Jakarta Post after meeting with Governor Sutiyoso at City Hall.

The 2003 city budget amounts to Rp 11.075 trillion, a substantial increase from last year's budget of Rp 9.7 trillion.

Suena said about Rp 50 billion of the Rp 65 billion would be used to appropriate some of the land needed for the 23-kilometer- long canal, which will require 230 hectares of land.

He said the remaining Rp 15 billion would be used for the first phase of construction on the canal, which was designed by a consulting firm from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1970.

"We will start the construction this year, although not all of the land has been appropriated," Suena said.

The east canal, along with the 15-kilometer-long west flood canal, which was built during the Dutch colonial period, is hoped to be the key to significantly reduce flooding in the city by accommodating water from the city's 13 rivers before it reaches the sea.

The development of the 100-meter-wide canal, which run along the eastern part of Jakarta, was earlier estimated to cost Rp 7 trillion.

The five-year project started last year with the appropriation of land along the canal-to-be, while construction will begin this year.

After the massive flooding that hit Jakarta in February last year, the central government promised to help finance the development of the east flood canal. But it remains unclear when the government will disburse the promised funds.

Suena also said on Friday his agency would use about Rp 45 billion of the Rp 355 billion to improve the city's 13 rivers.

The rivers, which have narrowed over the years, will be dredged and widened to increase their capacity to accommodate water and reduce flooding, he said.

The river normalization program has been criticized in the past because garbage removed from the rivers has been piled on the riverbanks and left there. The garbage eventually plunged back into the rivers because the sanitation agency never took it to the city's main garbage dump in Bantar Gebang, Bekasi.

Besides the garbage problem, Suena said, the city's rivers had narrowed along with the presence of settlements along the riverbanks.

He also said the city had allocated Rp 24 billion for "order operations" along the west flood canal and the Angke River in West Jakarta, and the Pluit Dam in North Jakarta.

Past order operations, which involve the eviction of illegal settlers, have been criticized as violating human rights because those evicted have lived along the riverbanks for years. In addition, the evicted settlers paid fees to officials in subdistrict offices for the right to live along the riverbanks.