Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja – Straits Times
While many Jakarta residents affected by last week’s severe floods spent their Sunday clearing their homes of debris and mud, those in the low-lying seafront district of Pluit in North Jakarta were battling flood waters as high as 2 meters.
Although it did not rain on Sunday, the neighborhood was busy coping with the aftermath of last week’s rain, which caused the Pluit dam’s pumps to break down.
Officials, too, were busy trying to pump water out and fix the dam, as Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and Indonesian Red Cross chief Jusuf Kalla arrived in the area to distribute relief supplies.
More than 100 rubber boats, many of them from the army and navy, were deployed in the rescue effort in Pluit.
Officials also appealed to Jakarta residents still battling flood waters to remain patient until help arrives.
Elsewhere, slow-moving waters were shallower, but shelters were struggling to cope with displaced residents unable to return to their homes yet.
Some are still not sure if they can go back to school or to work on Monday, even as life returns to normal for others.
Speaking to reporters after visiting an affected area in East Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the scale of the floods meant that the central government had to step in to assist the Jakarta administration.
He pledged to relocate residents who live on the river banks of the Ciliwung, the largest river in Jakarta, to higher ground over the next two years, as well as make improvements to the canal network.
In all, the government was committing 2 trillion rupiah (US$206 million) to flood mitigation efforts, he said.
But he also said the public should play a part, adding that he had seen rubbish clogging up canals.
“We can build things up, spend trillions, but if discipline is low, the root of the problem won’t be over.”
As for Pluit, North Jakarta Mayor Bambang Sugiono told The Straits Times, “We are stepping up relief efforts. We are combing the area and evacuating those who had earlier insisted on staying in their flooded house. They’re running out of logistics now.”
Five huge water pumps have also been deployed to the damaged dam. More than 100 rubber boats were deployed to Pluit on Sunday, he added.
When The Straits Times visited Pluit, a predominantly ethnic Chinese area, volunteers from the Lions Club and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation were helping soldiers evacuate victims and hand out food.
“The victims’ option is to go to their relatives’ houses located on higher ground, not to any evacuation shelter. The shelters here are far from proper for anyone to stay in,” said Lions Club Jakarta volunteer Edward Komala.
Even residents on higher ground, though, were struggling as access roads to their homes were cut off by flood waters.
Richard Andrew, 28, who lives in Pantai Muara residential complex, told The Straits Times, “I’m tired of eating instant noodles the past two days. I’m getting out of here.”
In Pancoran, South Jakarta, residents cleaning up the debris found a dead body on a tree on a bank of the Ciliwung River.
“Judging from its condition, it might have been there two to three days,” Johan Tarumajaya, deputy subdistrict head, told Elshinta radio.
The West Flood Canal, the largest man-made waterway in Jakarta, saw its dike in Central Jakarta collapse during the peak in heavy rain last week.
The rainwater overflowed to the Presidential Palace, several buildings in the area, and to the Cideng River which connects to Pluit dam.
Ensuing flash floods then broke all of the dam’s four pumps.
“The water pumps in Pluit dam were not designed to work to address such strong sudden flow of water,” Effendi Anas, the Jakarta government’s civil security chief, told The Straits Times.
Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times