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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
  Marooned

Jakartass Towers is conveniently situated; all parts of the city are accessible. Except today.

One side of the area we live in is bordered by the River Ciliwung and today, following incessant rain for the past two days both here and in Bogor upstream, it is even higher than it was 2 years ago when I took this photo with my instamatic.



Whilst TV crews hover overhead getting visuals to accompany today's BIG NEWS, and I, having got up at 5am, fail to reach today's place of work, residents of local kampungs relive their annual nightmares. Furniture and clothing is sodden, cooking is impossible and, for safety reasons, electricity is cut off.

Our side of the river bank is lined with local tourists and our kitchen is a place of refuge for some of our less fortunate and wetter neighbours.

Our residence is also very wet, but that's due to inaccessible roof leaks. However, if this blog isn't updated for a few days, it will be because our area is disconnected from the mains. 2 years ago we lived by candlelight for nigh on a week.

Of course, it's not just Jakarta which experiences floods.

Rain is proving a bigger problem than security
with floods ... blocking truck convoys from getting relief supplies into the tsunami-hit city of Banda Aceh.

Flooding in Lampung and South Sumatra provinces
in the past week has claimed at least three lives, cut traffic and washed away thousands hectares of rice fields in the area, which would likely lead to a serious rice shortfall in the region.

There is no way to prevent seasonal deluges but Jakarta's flooding problems are man-made.

In 2002, Paulus Agus Winarso of the Geophysical and Meteorological Agency (BMG) said, "Floods in Jakarta have become a serious problem since the 1990s as its development activities have not been in line with its master plan ... and (are) worsening due to continuing violations of the Jakarta Master Plan, which had resulted in a decrease in the number of water catchment areas."

Before that, in 2000, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso gave a different reason. "The capital will never be free from floods unless it has a drainage canal at the city's east and west border areas to facilitate drainage to the sea. Actually, we have had the master plan of the canals since 1975, but due to budget problems (corruption?) we could not build them.

"The only other option to escape being annually inundated during the rainy season is to move the city from the current location," the governor said. He also said that floods were unavoidable because 40 percent of the city is located in the lowlands and he also blamed Mother Nature and squatters living along the riverbanks.

Any old tired excuse, Sooty? But back in 2000 he also said that he would discuss with the central government about the continuation of the East Flood Canal project.

The idea to build the East Flood Canal was not new. The design was first produced in 1973, but had been on and off since then. The East Canal, along with the West Canal which was built by the Dutch colonial government, is intended to drain all of the city's 13 rivers.

Although details of specific projects have yet to be announced, it is to be hoped that the Jakarta Infrastructure Summit held over Monday and Tuesday this week will have attracted investors. An improvement in the infrastructure will bring optimism and hope for the country's future, something that is badly needed in Indonesia at this time.

A bit of a Catch 22 situation that. Can we be optimistic that the central government will streamline the bureaucracy, relax investment regulations and offer sufficient legal safeguards and incentives? The right noises are being made but ...

 

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