Thu, 18 Sep 2003

Residents try to prepare for floods Jakartans anticipate flood in modest way

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As the rainy season nears and sporadic showers fall, residents living near the Ciliwung River have started raking out piles of rotting garbage in anticipation of the floods that are expected in the near future.

Flooding in Jakarta in 2001 claimed 31 lives and caused uncalculated financial losses, not only to property, but to business in the capital.

Armed with a long bamboo stick, Mu'min, a resident of Jl. Raya Kalibata, South Jakarta, waded through knee-high polluted waters, removing the household waste clogging the river.

Mu'min and other residents drag the waste to the nearest sluice and remove it from the river.

"We just want to make sure the river keeps flowing so there will be no flood," he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

However, he said it was impossible to stop people throwing garbage in the river, especially those living in the slums that line the river, as it was cheaper and easier than paying the city administration to remove it.

The administration has earmarked Rp 37 billion (US$4.35 million) to dredge the river and for dam maintenance, though it says it is not sure that dredging will significantly reduce the flooding.

City Public Works Agency director IGKG Suena said earlier that only the construction of the planned East Flood Canal, which had begun in June, would solve the flood problems. The canal is expected to be completed within five years.

Another official, Kosasih Wirahadikusumah, who heads the City Environmental Agency, said there were many ways in which residents could limit the floods.

"The people must not treat the river like their backyard where they can throw anything in it. They are also obliged to build, at least, one water catchment well on their properties," he told the Post.

Then, the effort to minimize the impact of the flooding would be effective, he added.