Tue, 16 Sep 2003

Rp 37b wasted on flood project

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While many Jakartans are still suffering from water shortages due to a prolonged dry season, they have now been warned about the possibility of flooding in the near future.

The administration has allocated Rp 37 billion for river dredging and dam maintenance this year, but it is by no means sure that this will be enough to hold the floods at bay.

"No, I am not optimistic that the dredging will significantly reduce the flooding. The public should stay alert, particularly during spells of heavy rain," Jakarta Public Works Agency director IGKG Suena told reporters, without specifying when the possible floods were expected.

Suena said the rainy season had started earlier in the capital than forecast by the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG), which had previously said that the rainy season would start in November.

To prepare for the rain and possible floods, he said his agency would undertake eight dredging projects this year -- on the Krukut river, Ciliwung river, Grogol river, Cakung river, Sunter river and Mookervaart river, and in Pulo Mas and Pluit

He admitted that the dredging would only be able to start in November as the tender processes for the projects had not yet begun due to administrative problems.

Nearly all city administration agencies have been slow to spend their budget allocations this year due primarily to the introduction of a new city budgetary system.

Only around 25 percent of the Rp 11 trillion in expenditure budgeted for this year was spent in the first semester.

Suena also admitted that the dredging projects would not guarantee a significant reduction in flooding in the city.

He said that only the construction of the planned East Flood Canal would finally resolve the city's flooding problem.

The Rp 4.5 trillion canal project, which is being jointly undertaken by the central government and the city administration, is expected to be completed within five years. The project started in June.

Based on data from the city public works agency, there are some 75 flood-prone areas in the city that are regularly hit by annual inundations. These areas are spread throughout all five of the city's municipalities, but the highest risk locations are along riverbanks and in many subdistricts in North Jakarta.

Early last year, a massive flood hit 168 out of the 262 subdistricts in the city, killing at least 30 people and affecting nearly 300,000 others.

Separately, Governor Sutiyoso said that the preparations for cloud seeding operations currently underway would be halted as heavy rain had already started falling on the city.

"We will stop the cloud seeding preparations. Why should we spend money on the project when heavy rain is already falling? It would be better for the money to be used for other essential projects," Sutiyoso said, adding that the plans for the Rp 2.2 billion project had envisaged it being terminated after rain started falling.