Jakarta Prepares For Flood Deluge

With meteorologists predicting Jakarta will be deluged with heavy rains from December through early February and tidal waters already swamping Jakarta’s northern suburbs, the city’s governor is busy marshaling resources to mitigate against a flooding disaster.

From raising seawalls, training public order and emergency staff to preparing tools for neighborhood micro-drainage cleanups, the Jakarta administration hopes to cover all angles in a year many suspect may see a repeat of a five-year flood cycle.

Speaking at a military-style briefing for 6,844 front-line flood-mitigation “troops” convened at the National Monument, governor Fauzi Bowo said he expected people from disparate backgrounds to pull together.

“As you know, annual floods threaten every part of the city of Jakarta. This is why we are holding this briefing session, which involves every division of government, local and central, and various community organizations,” Fauzi said after descending from the podium.

Attending were security forces including the military and police, various government working units including the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) and the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), along with volunteers grouped under the banner of Community Flood Care.

Fauzi announced plans to provide flood response training and activate flood emergency centers, and to print a joint flood response manual under which the various agencies and volunteers could coordinate their efforts.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Syamsul Maarif took the opportunity to explain that his staff had made ??maps of disaster-prone areas throughout Indonesia, including Jakarta. In anticipation of flooding, the type of disaster most likely to hit the capital, the BNPB has proposed short-term measures which could be adopted by the city administration.

“In essence, we are ready to assist the city government in tackling flooding. We’ve prepared a logistics warehouse in Jakarta. Any setbacks or shortages that occur in particular city neighborhoods, we can send help in the form of equipment and supplies,” he said.

Fauzi also addressed reporters and asked them to carry a message of preparedness to the city’s residents. He cited the BMKG prediction that the next two months or more would see heavy rains.

“Looking at that prediction, the time is upon us to make preparations. Fellow Jakartans, I hope you will join me in cleaning up our localities, in particular to ensure our micro-drainage systems are free of rubbish and silt,” he said.

Eko Bharuna, the head of the Jakarta Sanitation Agency, said 525 of his personnel were on standby to help with neighborhood cleanups, complete with the required tools. He said there were 54 garbage trucks, 14 portable toilets, 12 tanker trucks for clean and dirty water and six earth-moving vehicles at the ready.

He said the agency also had stocks of plastic bags, shovels and dustpans for residents to borrow.

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