Tue, 15 Jan 2002

Heavy downpour inundates 100 locations in Jakarta

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Just as on other rainy days in the capital, Jakarta was paralyzed by flooding, which caused traffic jams throughout the city during the Monday morning peak period.

The heavy rain inundated over 100 locations on the city's road network.

Data issued by the administration showed Central Jakarta suffered the worst, as 52 places were inundated. The flood depth was from 10 centimeters (cm) to 30 cm, lasting from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. It also showed that the floods covered over hundreds of hectares in the five mayoralties.

The city's poor drainage system, either out of order or blocked by garbage, fewer green areas in the city and poor city planning have been blamed as the root causes of flooding in the capital.

The flooding caused long traffic queues in most parts of the city.

The Central Jakarta State Court on Jl. Gajah Mada was inundated to a depth of 10 cm. An employee of the court placed some bricks as stepping stones to enable visitors to enter the building.

Some foreigners were seen jumping from one brick to another, dressed in suits and wearing shiny shoes.

A 50-cm flood also occurred in front of Tarumanegara University, West Jakarta, causing a huge traffic jam from Slipi to Grogol, in both directions.

Many motorbikes broke down as water flooded carburetors and spark plugs.

On Jl. Teluk Gong and Jl. Kapuk Raya in North Jakarta, a 50-cm flood inundated stores on both streets.

A young executive, Dino, had to take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) from his house in Bintaro to his office in the Palmerah area after waiting in a traffic jam for nearly an hour.

"I decided to return home and leave my car there after a long wait in traffic. Although I managed to arrive at the office faster than I would have done by car, I was still one-and-a-half- hours late for a meeting," he said, adding that he had to carry a change of clothing in a plastic bag.

The Public Works Agency had claimed earlier that it was renovating the drainage system. Until it finishes that work, Jakartans will still have to cope as best they can with the impact of flooding.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso said that the city administration had anticipated a possible worsening situation in the near future.

"We are now focusing on safety precautions for the people who stand to suffer most from these natural disasters," he told reporters at his office.

The Jakarta Public Works Agency will make use of all safety equipment available in the city, especially dinghies owned by several agencies, including the Jakarta administration, the Marines and the Jakarta Military Command.

Sutiyoso repeated his statement that his administration had not been able to resolve flooding problems in the capital comprehensively for various reasons, including the fact that many settled areas lay below sea level.

"We are facing a five-year flood this year, just as happened in 1996," he said, adding that the readiness of Jakartans would be a significant factor in lessening the impact of the flooding.

He claimed that the military had given a commitment to deploy its personnel as well as equipment to help people living in areas liable to flooding.

In addition to the administration's efforts, the Jakarta Police have also established a save-and-rescue (SAR) team to help tackle the problem.

"The SAR team consists of about 200 policemen from all districts," said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Anton Bachrul Alam.

The team will use standard rescue equipment, including diving tools, ropes, boats and oxygen cylinders.

Anton said the police would also be ready on the streets to move traffic to places that were not prone to flooding when downpours came.

Flooded areas on Jan. 14 in Jakarta's five mayoralties

(Mayoralty -- Flooded areas -- Depth -- Duration -- Cause): 1. North Jakarta -- 17 road sections (77 hectares) -- 10-20 cm -- 30-45 minutes -- heavy rain/drainage system; 2. Central Jakarta -- 52 road sections (89 hectares) -- 10-50 cm -- 30-45 minutes -- drainage system; 3. East Jakarta -- 28 road sections (9 hectares) -- 10-30 cm minutes -- 20-30 -- drainage system; 4. West Jakarta -- 6 road sections (10 hectares) -- 15-30 cm -- 20-30 minutes -- drainage system; 5. South Jakarta -- 3 subdistricts -- 30-50 cm -- - -- -.

Source: Jakarta Administration