Lenny Tristia Tambun & Vento Saudale
With areas around Jakarta being pounded by heavy rain, officials are warning of flooding in the capital today as they keep a wary eye on surging rivers.
Head of the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Arfan Arkili, said officials were monitoring dams dotted along the rivers that cut across the capital for much of Tuesday evening.
“With the situation as it is now, every 30 minutes we get a reading at all 14 dams and floodgates, as well as reports from the flood-prone areas [around Jakarta]. We don’t want to be caught off guard, because if we do it could spell disaster for Jakarta residents,” Arfan said on Tuesday.
The water at Katulampa Dam in Bogor, considered the first floodgate for Jakarta’s biggest waterway, the Ciliwung River, was reported at 120 centimeters high on Tuesday night. That is 40cm above normal.
Arfan said the level at the dam was on 30cm on Tuesday afternoon, but had continued to rise through the afternoon and evening, eventually reaching 120cm.
That, he said, is considered just one stage below the danger level. If the water reaches 170cm, officials will have to open the dam and release some of the water.
Andi Sudirman, a caretaker at Katulampa, said once the water started to overflow at the dam, it would take four hours to reach the Depok floodgate, the last flood barrier before entering Jakarta. From there it will be another six to eight hours before it affects the Manggarai floodgate, in the heart of the capital.
Hendri, data and information chief at the Dramaga Climatology and Weather Observatory Center in Bogor, said weather patterns in the Indian Ocean had caused much of the upstream areas around Jakarta to experience heavy rain of up to 100 millimeters per second on Tuesday, particularly in the afternoon.
He said heavy rain could continue for the next seven days.
Ernan Rustiadi, a scientist at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) who has been observing water flows in the Ciliwung, said the situation could lead to severe flooding in Jakarta.
“We are seeing rapidly changing water volumes,” he said. “Water levels can rise from 50 centimeters to 100 centimeters in a matter of hours.”
Ernan blamed this on the condition of Jakarta’s waterways, which are filled with garbage, silted up and hemmed in by settlements, and the loss of catchment areas.
Flooding was seen in parts of Jakarta on Tuesday, displacing some 850 residents and causing massive traffic jams.
Water inundated parts of Cipinang and Pasar Rebo, in East Jakarta, with homes submerged under a meter of water.
In Cimpedak, Jagakarsa, Petogogan and Cipete, in South Jakarta, floods affected more than 800 residents. The Krukut River, which originates in Bogor, overflowed and left homes under at least 80cm of water.
The heavily congested neighborhood of Pondok Labu in South Jakarta was the area worst affected by Tuesday’s floods, with water reaching up to 1.5 meters high in some areas.
Ery Basworo, head of Jakarta’s public works agency, said residents in Pondok Labu has resisted a government plan to install permanent concrete barriers in the area, leaving it vulnerable to flooding.