Wed, 24 Sep 2003

'We're used to floods, ready to be evacuated'

The onset of the rainy season brings relief to those who have suffered from water shortages. But people are now concerned about the floods that seem likely to occur in prone areas in the capital. Some citizens share the methods they use to safeguard their houses against floods with The Jakarta Post.

Yosepha, 32, is a teacher at a private school in North Jakarta. She lives in Serdang, Central Jakarta with her family:

I have been living in the flood-prone area near the Sunter river for almost 30 years. The river is full of rubbish and the water is very dirty.

We automatically anticipate floods and always move to our relative's house.

Due to financial constraints my family can not move permanently. We can only try to raise the foundations of the house and we've already done that three times in the last 10 years.

I regret the poorly planned construction of supermarkets, shopping malls and other buildings in the area which have made water catchment areas disappear.

This surely indicates that the city administration sides with the building's management. They are interested in profit, instead of the people.

The situation is further exacerbated by the local people's habit of throwing rubbish in the river.

Asih, 50, is a housewife who resides in Jl. Wijaya, South Jakarta, with her husband and three children:

To welcome the rainy season, I have purchased large quantities of wax. Wax is very useful in a flood-prone neighborhood like mine. It can prevent water from entering the house by sealing up holes and the spaces under doors. It has worked extremely well for years.

But, besides that, I have no other ideas.

I am not anxious about the likelihood of floods. We are used to this situation.

This area is prone to flooding because it is surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings and a golf course. But what can we do?

I wonder if the administration has the money to dredge the river.

We have nowhere else to go. Maybe, if we can wait long enough a private company will buy land in the area and we will be compensated.

In the mean time, we are ready to be evacuated.

Rita, 50, is a housewife who lives near Ciliwung river in Manggarai, South Jakarta, with her husband and three children:

Honestly, I am not going to do anything to safeguard our house against floods. The so-called five-yearly flood cycle peaked last year, so this year won't be any worse. All I am planning to do is to move my belongings to a higher place in the house.

However, the people in my area have started to clean up and the administration has cleared rubbish from the Manggarai water gate.

But I'm saddened to see the way in which people living along the river treat it as a dump.

Even though their makeshift houses are regularly flooded, they seem to be unaware of the consequence of their actions.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.