Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Sutiyoso declares 'Siaga 2', demands fund for canal project

Governor Sutiyoso declared Siaga 2 (Alert Level 2) on Friday, the third day the capital has been hit by heavy floods which have forced more than 13,000 people to flee their homes and seek refuge.

"The city is now on Siaga 2, but since the water at all the sluice gates has now dropped to normal levels, there's a possibility I'll lower the alert back to Siaga 3 (Alert Level 3 -- the lowest level)," Sutiyoso said after Friday prayers.

However, Jakarta city secretary Ritola Tasmaya, who accompanied the governor, suggested that Sutiyoso keep the alert level at Siaga 2.

"It's better that we keep the Siaga 2 alert, Sir, as we want to increase monitoring so that we can prepare for the worst," Ritola said, addressing the Governor.

Unlike Siaga 3 that merely requires the instructions of an operational chief to open or close a sluice gate whenever necessary, Siaga 2 requires more intense supervision -- with two shifts -- and a higher level of authority to decide on the operation of the sluice gates.

Sutiyoso underlined the need to build the East Flood Canal, which will stretch from Cipinang in East Jakarta to Marunda in North Jakarta, as major infrastructure to tackle the flooding.

"I've said it so many times that we need the East Flood Canal project to be completed soon. Yet, help is not there. Yes, the central government has inaugurated the canal, but the fund has not been disbursed," he told the media.

The total fund for the project is Rp 5 trillion (US$59.5 billion), half of which is expected from the central government. -- JP