Indonesia: Problems With Flooding in Jakarta Continues

The city administration’s failure to overhaul the city’s poor sewerage and drainage systems has resulted in the rising phenomenon of localized flooding across the city.

Some spots along Jl. RE Martadinata, Jl. Yos Sudarso, and Jl. Lodan Ancol, all in North Jakarta, are perennially flooded even during the dry season.

They are located in the most low-lying terrain in the city, and the drainage system that regulates water coming in and out the area is said to be dysfunctional.

On Jl. Lodan Ancol, particularly, puddles of water rise up to 50-centimeters in height during high tide, or when heavy rain showers the area, some people have been to hold their breath when passing the road, as the blackish water emanates sulphuric sea-water and is filled with garbage.

“Floods have been an ongoing problem here, so when the water gets high, a severe traffic jam follows, making the roads impassible,” Winy, 27, who traverses the same road by car almost everyday, told The Jakarta Post recently.

Tarumanegara University urban and spatial planner Suryono Herlambang said many plans to mitigate localized flooding might fail because the city administration lacked political willingness to manage urban and spatial planning in general.

Suryono paid close attention to the recent localized flooding incidents taking place on arterial roads, including Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta, where busway lanes were implemented.

“Many water outlets along the busway lanes are not built well or are blocked by the elevated lanes that obstruct rainwater from flowing into designated drains,” he said.

The existing drainage system is the legacy of the 1960’s city spatial planning, consisting of a supposedly comprehensive network of 13 natural and some artificial rivers flowing through Jakarta, such as Ciliwung, Grogol, Sunter and Pasanggrahan rivers, along with their tributaries, drains and canals.

The system is estimated to be more than 14,000 kilometers long and is essentially divided into macro, sub-macro, and micro ones, the latter of which is a reticulation of open trenches found in residential areas.

It is also equipped with 442 water pumps, 21 flood control dams, 30 sluices, and 23 retention dams, all aimed to regulate the discharge and retention of rainwater toward Java sea.

The majority of drains in the city are an open system, while closed drains are applied with great consideration for aesthetic use in business districts or luxurious residential


Ideally, rainwater that falls into the open ditches will be channeled to rivers (macro drains), and it travels through a connecting drain

(sub-macro) such as the Kali Sentiong tributary in Central Jakarta.

But in reality, the system is seriously clogged with ever-mounting sediments and garbage.

When the city officials were buttonholed, they sought to blame the problem of floods and garbage choking the drainage system on residents.

In June, Governor Fauzi Bowo pointed fingers at the people, especially street vendors, for lacking a sense of responsibility in handling waste.

Annual flooding inflicts Jakarta with a cost of around Rp 3 to 4 trillion.

Tarzuki, head of water resources maintenance at the Public Works Agency, concurred, citing that in addition to the mounting garbage problems, encroachment of urban settlements and business establishments served as bottlenecks in the city’s drainage system.

“These structures are usually built upon the system, and we have no authority to remove them because they have legal permits,” he told the Post.

Commenting on the recurring localized flooding in some roads in North Jakarta, Tarzuki said the agency planned to siphon floodwater off to the Ciliwung-Gunung Sahari river in Central Jakarta, which would be fully dredged in the near future.

The dredging is part of a bid for World Bank financed projects, with its first phase to cost around Rp 200 billion (US$22 million).

The city has also allocated a total of Rp 13.5 trillion and Rp 2.7 trillion in funds from the annual regional budget to normalize Jakarta’s macro and sub-macro systems, respectively.

Environmentalist Firdaus Ali, criticized the lack of coordination and political willingness among city agencies in improving the drainage system.

City agencies pigeonholed their tasks in waste management, collecting trash from the drain system and from land surfaces is handled by two separate agencies: water resource maintenance of Public Works Agency and Sanitary Agency, respectively.

“Such overlapping responsibilities should be effectively coordinated by appointing only one agency to manage the same issue,” he said.

Firdaus also said the city’s drain system had deteriorated, and it had been a long-overdue effort to rescue the city from the verge of being submerged, let alone the localized flooding caused by unseasonal rain.

He added, according to research he conducted with the University of Indonesia, due to Jakarta’s rapid urbanization and development that lacked a sustainable approach, the city’s efficiency of absorbing water had reduced from 80 to 20 percent. “That’s why floods are inevitable.”



Source: thejakartapost, July 23, 2010;