Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jakarta Annual Flooding in February 2008

DSC01417, originally uploaded by Luis XII.

In February 2007, I wrote a post on flood that hit Jakarta severely, inundated about 70 percent of the city, killed at least 57 people and sent about 450,000 fleeing their homes. The 2007 flood is the worst flood in Jakarta's history. This year, on the same week of the year, flood hit Jakarta again. It clearly indicates that flooding is an annual event in Jakarta!

Fortunately, the extent of this year's flood is less than that of 2007. At least, there are no people killed by the flood. Hours of heavy rains that started Thursday night (January 31, 2008) continued Friday afternoon caused most of main roads in the capital submerged in knee-deep water, bringing traffic to a near standstill. The Traffic Management Center told the Jakarta Post on Friday night that more than 40 locations inundated by water more than one meter high. Thirty seven of 267 subdistricts in Jakarta inundated more than 40 centimeters high. Floodwaters caused public transportation including the busway lines across Jakarta to stop operations, leaving thousands passengers stranded.

One of the major impacts of this year's flood is the inundation of the Sedyatmo toll road leading to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport which resulted in the cutting off the highway for a few days. Detik.com reported on February 5, 2007 that nearly 1000 flights were delayed or diverted and 259 flights were cancelled. The loss of such delays and cancellations could reach billions rupiah. Seputar-Indonesia.com reported that Tengku Burhanuddin of the INACA (Indonesia National Air Carriers Association) claimed that the loss is about 40 million rupiah for each airplane by being stranded for an hour. The loss would be greater when the flights were diverted to other airports due to the additional costs for the fuel, ground handling, naviation charge, and aiport charge.

In a brief visit to the flooded Sedyatmo toll road, Vice President Yusuf Kalla instructed Jakarta's Governor Fauzi Bowo to install more pumps for drying out the flooded toll road. An upscale neighborhood, not far from the flooded toll road, was not flooded and Vice President Kalla also requested that this issue should be investigated. Minister of Public Works Djoko Kirmanto reported that the project of elevated toll road will be prioritized and it will start as soon as March 2008. He argued that the elevated toll road is the solution to the annually flooded Sedyatmo toll road. Governor Fauzi Bowo also added that his administration will continue to acquire the lands for the Banjir Kanal Timur project. The land acquisition for the project has reached about 72 percent and the Jakarta administration plans to apply the Perpres 36/2005 to acquire the remaining lands. The Banjir Kanal Timur project aims to avert flooding by channeling rivers in Eastern parts of Jakarta including the rivers of Cipinang, Sunter, Buaran, Jatikramat, Cakung, and Blencong to the sea.

In response to this year's flood, Governor Fauzi Bowo set 8 strategic measures including (1) ensure the early warning systems are effective, (2) dredge the river to enable the water flow properly, (3) revitalize the Pluit, Sunter and Riario dams, (4) place mobile water pumps on the Sedyatmo toll roads to anticipate the blackouts, (5) repair the damaged traffic lights, (6) prepare emergency routes for emergency areas, (7) provide shuttle buses to airport, and (8) tell people to remain on alert and follow the existing procedures when they take refuge at crisis center posts.

DSC01412, originally uploaded by Luis XII.

In this year's flood, the poor drainage system was blamed as the primary cause as claimed by Basah Hernowo, the director of forestry and water resource conservation at the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas). As reported by the Jakarta Post, he argued that "parts of the city's micro drainage system is blocked and some canals are not functioning properly." His claim was also supported by Pitoyo Subandrio, the head of the Ciliwung - Cisadane Flood Bureau.

This year's flood is due to the local heavy rainfall and is not combined with the rain in the outskirts of Jakarta. Last year former Governor Sutiyoso blamed the deforestation and overbuilding in neighbouring areas which were supposed to be water catchment areas as the culprit in the flood. This year such blame are not present. However, the threat from neighboring areas to cause severe floods in Jakarta are still present.

The annual floods in Jakarta are strong evidence that Jakarta has not been able to sustainably accommodate its growth. Two centuries ago, the Dutch colonial government, with its long experience of controlling water and drainage systems, built the canal system to protect the city's population which was then 500,000. Jakarta, which lies in the lowland with 43 lakes and 13 rivers, relies on the canal system to prevent flooding. Today Jakarta is a megacity with nearly ten million population within the city's boundary and more than four million population in its neighboring areas, but still relies on the same system to avert flooding. Not only is Jakarta the capital of Indonesia, it is also the economic, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of the nation. Jakarta is the prime city of Indonesia and it dominates the urban system. The population of Jakarta is poised to grow faster than other parts of Indonesia.

The annual floods also demonstrates how the growth in Jakarta confronts private consumption and public investment in infrastructure. The Indonesian economy has growing at a robust pace of 6 per cent a year and Jakarta has been Indonesia's primary growth machine. New homes, commercial and office buildings have proliferated in Jakarta and its neighbouring areas, but hardly any new infrastructures, including the expansion of Jakarta's canal system, have been built in the past 10 years since the economic crisis hit Indonesia in 1997.

Neither improving the drainage system nor dredging the canal and rivers is a sustainable solution for the annual floods in Jakarta. The annual floods are strong evidence that rapid urbanization in Jakarta must be reduced. One way to reduce the rapid urbanisation in Jakarta is to eliminate the pull factor of urbanisation. One major pull factor of urbanisation in Jakarta is its function as economic, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of the nation as well as the capital of the country. Indonesia needs to redistribute the central functions from Jakarta to other parts of the nation and create more urban agglomerations to pull urbanization away from Jakarta. Relocating central functions out of Jakarta will not only make Jakarta more sustainable but also create regional equality in Indonesia.

(This article also appeared at The Jakarta Post on February 9, 2008 and then was linked at Cempaka Development, Construction and Utitilies, the Brunei Times, Development from Disasters Networks and 2Bangkok)


Unknown said...

What we need is "more canals"
Get those Dutch engineers and contractors to do it. They built Batavia. They know what to do.

Anonymous said...

Great, instructive article!

The predictability of the flooding, the fact the causes are known and the availability of the engineering expertise, should help to solve the problems.

I do agree with Indradi. But then, who am I -being a Dutch citizen- to agree with indradi...?

Anonymous said...

We dont need foreigner egineers! We have ours. Jakarta needs me !

Anonymous said...

Well, the problem goes far beyond, "just making more canals" or "Whether you use local or Dutch or friggin Mongolian engineers"

Having lived in Indonesia for over a decade,i realise that indonesia does have loads of engineers, but many of them are not specialised in flood water or water resource management, they are specialised in concrete and construction. Why do you think you see new buildings and malls popping up all the time? If you look at all the flood gates, you will notice that the technology and equipment is not being maintained. Equipment failure and breakage are common on these gates. Secondly, Jakarta already has kalis,canals and outlets. Its true that rapid urbanization has a major impact on decreasing water catchment areas. But maintenance of rivers and other waterways that have silted is just not being done. People close to these waterways think that the waterways are their own private rubbish dumping ground, which in turn clog up these outlets. There is no sustainable process for dredging the waterways or getting rid of the rubbish. It is not enough to "occasionally" fish out the rubbish from rivers, it has to be done regularly, or even better what about teaching the local communities to "not throw their rubbish in the rivers and show them that it has severe consequences if they do", provide with an alternative for their rubbish disposable, like garbage trucks that comes twice a day to a particular area so people can dispose of their rubbish appropriately.

Ok so what i wrote above is all nice and well, but here comes the tricky part... are you ready to hear it?

The problem is the government. they are not investing in the education of the community, they are not maintaining their rivers and water outlets, they are not teaching the community about how to flood proof their homes, they are not even giving sufficient flood warnings or signals to the people. Why dont they invest in teaching their people about rubbish disposal and flood proofing in the communities?

Because there is no money in that... No chance to steal... However, there is money in building nice shopping malls and apartment buildings because there are more chances for corruption and chances to "steal" money.

You dont believe me???
Then look at 20 of the top universities in Indonesia, look under what degrees they offer.
Then see what types of degrees they are. Then ask yourself, "how many water resource management or flood management or water engineer courses and degrees are offered?"
You will be lucky if you find 2 or 3 universities that offer this. They focus their degrees on becoming a doctor, or concrete and structural engineering, these are "money making" degrees thats why they are so popular...
and the more they build these malls and other concrete monstrosities the more of a concrete jungle jakarta becomes and the less places water has to go... and when the water has nowhere to go, where do you think it will end up? thats right, in your homes, your backyard, your streets, your schools and all those fancy shopping malls...

If you trace the flooding in the Jakarta area back in history, you can find literature that proves that floods in this area is as old as the trees on this land. Actual written reports of flood go back to 1600's, that means that floods were already happening before the 1600's. Floods are nothing new to Jakarta, you cannot escape it, you have to live with it, one of the ways is by flood proofing houses and streets. Just like they do in Holland. They use boards filled with sand and put them up to protect the houses and shops. If the flood becomes higher then the people add another board. The dutch city of Nijmegen does this EVEN TO THIS DAY. the boards prevent any damages to houses and shops, although it does reduce some business because of the water blocking certain pathways,but the economy can still move forward. These folks in good ol Holland live with water rather than fight it. The structural board strategy is a simple and low investment idea that can be done tomorrow! Indo Engineers say "lets build dams" but those things take 10 years to build if not longer, so what are the people suppose to do in the meantime? The west does have answers for flood proofing areas and its not always about "just building more canals", its maintenance, changing mindsets and education. But the government has to want to invest in it now and see that this investment will save them billions of dollars in damages in the future. But often the short sighted syndrome is hard to shake here...
Dont get me wrong, I love Indonesia and love the culture and the smiles on all the wonderful friendly faces. But something has to change and it would be better if that change were to happen in the upper ranks of government, someone who is not corruptible and can say "that the responsibility of my people are in my hands and i will do what it takes to help my fellow countrymen" If you find this person somewhere out there, then let me know....

So to conclude my little rant, i think i have made it clear that the solution to this problem goes far beyond the realms of another engineering solutions... you will need to be creative to solve this one...and think outside the box.. Are you ready for that?

Water Damage Restoration said...

The problem is the government. they are not investing in the education of the community, they are not maintaining their rivers and water outlets, they are not teaching the community about how to flood proof their homes, they are not even giving sufficient flood warnings or signals to the people. Why dont they invest in teaching their people about rubbish disposal and flood proofing in the communities?