Lenny Tristia Tambun & Ronna Nirmala
He may be a lot of things but one thing Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo says he’s not is a “god” who can easily solve Jakarta’s perennial flooding woes.
A day after three people were swept away in surging waters following torrential rains in the capital, the governor said solving Jakarta’s flooding problem was not as easy as “turning your hand over.”
“Solving the flooding problem is a process. Even gods might not be able to solve Jakarta’s floods instantly,” he said on Monday.
The problem, the governor better known as Jokowi said, would take more than mere days or even months to fix.
Over the medium to long term, he said, a number of projects are being carried out by the Jakarta administration to address the issue, such as the East Flood Canal and improving the drainage in Cengkareng and Pesanggrahan. There is also a reservoir project aimed at reducing the flow of the Ciliwung River, which contributes to flooding in low-lying parts of the capital.
“All of these need years [to complete],” he said. “I’ve just been on the job for four weeks and I’m already faced with these questions.”
The governor added that a solution would not be possible without the cooperation of Jakarta residents.
“It is our duty to dredge the drainage and small tributaries,” he said.
In the short term, Jokowi said he believed it was better to remove old trees that were proving to be hazards during heavy rains.
“If [we] don’t want the trees to fall, better to cut them down now, but regulations here forbid it,” he said.
The Ciliwung River burst its banks on Sunday following torrential rain, flooding six neighborhoods in Kampung Pulo, Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta.
Floodwaters began reaching residential areas at around 10 p.m. on Sunday night, reaching a height of about two meters by 1 a.m. on Monday. By Monday morning, floodwaters were still about half a meter deep. Eleven families were forced to take shelter in a local mosque.
“But last night’s flood was still pretty normal; as we’ve experienced worst,” Kampung Melayu chief Bambang Pangestu said.