Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In the Aftermath of Annual Floodings

the canals in kota Batavia, originally uploaded by Tom van Breda.

In the aftermath of recent flood, Jakarta Governor met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and they agreed that the most feasible solution for preventing floods in Jakarta is to expedite the completion of the East Flood Canal project. President Yodhoyono expected the land acquisition for the East Flood Canal project to be completed by 2009 and the project to be finished by 2010.

Such a response is an old way in preventing floods from paralyzing Jakarta in the future. Similar responses were also presented in the wake of the deadly floods that hit Jakarta in 2002 and 2007. The East Flood Canal project was initiated since 1973 but it had been on and off since then. The project stretches for 23.5 kilometers and 100 meters wide and will cut through several of the 13 rivers including Cipinang, Sunter, Buaran, Jatikramat, Cakung, and Blencong rivers towards the sea and pass through 11 neighborhoods in East Jakarta and 2 neighborhoods in North Jakarta.

The East Flood Canal project has progressed very slowly and failed to prevent annual floods in Jakarta. In response to the flood in 2002, the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri promised to build the East Flood Canal. Nothing has been done because of the high cost of land. The project requires at least 230 hectares to be purchased.

In the aftermath of last year flood, the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono set up a national flood control task force to expedite the East Flood Canal project and the project was expected to be completed by 2009. The Department of Public Work allocated Rp 2.1 trillion (US$233 million) for the project in 2007 and Rp 6.5 trillion would be disbursed over a three-year period.

As of January 2008, the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI) claimed that the administration has only acquired 30% of the land for the project (The Jakarta Post, January 26, 2008). The East Jakarta Mayor, Koesnan Abdul Halim acknowledged the ongoing disputes with the residents who live in the land for the project that thwarted the attempts to expedite the East Flood Canal project.

Residents in Marunda subdistricts and Cilincing district claim ownership over land the Jakarta administation had purchased and they tried to stop dozens of the project workers. They asserted that they never received any payment from the government for the land they lived in (The Jakarta Post, January 15, 2007). Such disputes will certainly slow down the progress of the East Flood Canal project.

Slum, originally uploaded by Shaolin Tiger.

The exorbitant cost of land is the major reason why the progress of the East Flood Canal project for preventing future flooding in Jakarta is very slow. The East Flood Canal is sought to be most feasible solution for preventing future flooding in Jakarta, but apparently the East Flood Canal is not easy to be materialized. Alternatively, the gradual relocation of the central functions of Jakarta should be pursued to mitigate the impacts of future flooding or even to prevent future flooding.

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