New Ciliwung River Dams Planned as Jakarta Struggles With Latest Floods

A man wades through a street affected by flood waters in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 20, 2014. (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)

A man wades through a street affected by flood waters in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 20, 2014. (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo welcomed the approval of two dam construction projects in West Java on Monday expected to reduce the amount of water flowing downstream to the capital by 40 percent upon their completion as significant swaths of Jakarta remained flooded following the weekend’s heavy rains.

“I think [the dams] will help us tackle the root of the problem,” Joko said.

Days of heavy rain left Jakarta and its satellite cities inundated with floods, killing 15 and displacing more than 64,000 across the region in the first major event of the rainy season to hit the capital. The central government has worked for months to address the annual floods, a headache for Jakarta residents and a serious drain on the capital’s economy, in the lead-up to the rainy season, demolishing illegally built villas and dredging several rivers in an effort to mitigate flooding.

But, so far, the measures had a limited effect on the situation in Jakarta. Water levels at key flood gates outside the capital hit critical levels on Friday as the torrential rains reached their peak. By Saturday large sections of the capital were under water, with the largest concentrations located in the city’s eastern and northern neighborhoods, leaving places like the inundated Kelapa Gading to cope with some Rp 40 billion ($3.3 million) in losses per day.

Rain water in West Java flows downstream to capital on the way to the Jakarta Bay, filtering through tons of floating garbage and the refuse of illegally constructed homes before overwhelming the capital’s inadequate infrastructure. The greater Jakarta metro area has a population of some 28 million but lacks a modern sewer system or adequate drainage along main arteries. Regardless, issues upstream, in the cities of Bogor and Bekasi, have been blamed as the root cause of the floods. The capital has responded by funneling an undisclosed amount of “compensation” funds to governments in West Java and Banten to help Joko’s administration make good on a promise to tackle the city’s annual floods.

On Monday Joko met with West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan and central government officials at an office near the Katulampa Dam, in Bogor, West Java, to discuss the construction projects. The parties reached an agreement on Monday for the construction of two new dams — the Ciawi and Sukamahi dams — to begin next year.

The Jakarta governor said he hoped it was the last meeting he would have to attend regarding the matter, saying it was “time for real action.”

The central government will fund the construction of the dams while the Jakarta administration floats the cost of land acquisition. The dams are still in the design phase, so the cost of each project remained unknown on Monday, Muhammad Hasan, the director general for water resources at the Ministry of Public Works, told reporters shortly after the meeting concluded.

“We will add infrastructure by building two new dams along the Ciliwung river, namely the Ciawi Dam and the Sukamahi Dam,” Hasan said.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015 and the dams, upon their completion, will be handed over to be run by local governments in Bogor and Bekasi. The officials also revived a plan to build a 1.2 km-long tunnel to divert part of the Ciliwung River to the nearby Cisadane River — which misses the capital and flows through Tangerang, Banten, on its way to the bay.

The proposal aims to reduce the level of water flowing through the capital, but it still hinges on approval by Tangerang officials, Hasan said.

“[The tunnel] will divert some 200 cubic meters of water [per second] from the Ciliwung to the Cisadane,” he said. “We still need approval from Tangerang, though; as nobody from Tangerang appeared at today’s meeting.”

  • Capek Deh

    Keep up the good work Joko. It will take a it of time, but with focus you’ll get there. Shame your President feels no need to be involved at this time, like Bali doesn’t have a governor.

    • Pastor Ex

      He’s busy protecting his interest in the Bali mangroves.

  • Deddy K.

    I am certainly glad that Jakarta has Ahok and Jokowi now to clean up the mess that Fauzi Bowo and Sutiyoso had left behind. I do hope they can keep their heads straight in this chaos we call Jakarta. I wish what they were doing had more immediate impact rather than me being flooded this year, but I know it takes time, and all I blame is every single person before this great pair won Jakarta away from the corrupt and idiotic (you choose they either idiots or souless) I sort of blame them for not being to hard on their administration to immediately make changes and improvements, but so far I believe they are on the right track.

    • zerodiversity

      which makes me wonder where the budget money went to during Sutiyoso and Fauzi terms. Time for KPK investigation.

  • Alterity

    There should be experts involved in devising comprehensive solutions to Jakarta’s problems and not just knee-jerk reactions by politicians. #wishfulthinking

    • Lone Wolf

      I agree with you, I believe if tackled as one project, one year greatly reduced, , two years complete. Job done.

      The public themselves are also to blame for having absolutely no thought in Littering , casually droping plastic bags, bottles etc and any litter anywhere with no thought at all. You see it every day, from kids to adults. Indonesia must be one of the worst countries for this, as it would be very difficult to be worse.

      Maybe start some litter education in schools. (?) After you teach the teachers.

      Interesting web site :

    • Lone Wolf

      JG August 2013 :

      “The sewers are all clogged up, so some areas get flooded really
      quickly during rains. Our sewer network is in very bad condition. Almost
      all of it was built more than 15 years ago and has never been cleaned
      since then,” he said.

      Governor Joko Widodo’s administration was criticized in April for
      scrapping a long-awaited project, financed by conditional World Bank
      loans, to dredge the 13 rivers that flow through the capital.

      City Hall argued that the terms of the agreement drafted under the
      previous administration were unfavorable, including a stipulation that
      the program, the Jakarta Emergency Dredging Initiative, would take five
      years to complete, and a requirement that the administration compensate
      riverbank residents who would be evicted to widen the rivers.

      Basuki said five years was unacceptably long, and that the
      administration objected to giving cash handouts, noting that it had
      instead offered to move the residents into apartments paid for by the

  • Ian Thomson

    Are you kidding ? Are you suggesting Fauzi was better for Jakarta than Joko ?
    Which branch of Fauzi’s family do you belong to ?