Indonesia: New Delay for Jakarta River Dredging Project

An ambitious project to dredge the 13 rivers crisscrossing the capital has been delayed to early 2011 from a previous deadline of late this year, pending the release of funds from a foreign loan, Governor Fauzi Bowo said on Thursday.

The Jakarta Urgent Flood Mitigation Project is being funded by a $150 million loan from the World Bank. The city administration is set to repay 41 percent of the loan. The rest will be repaid by the central government.

“We expect a presidential decree on the project to be issued in October, in time to kick off the project itself early next year,” Fauzi said at City Hall.

This is the second delay in the project, which was initially supposed to start in June 2010. The first delay, which postponed the project until later this year, was due to a glitch in paperwork.

The project is expected to remove tons of sediment and garbage dumped into 13 rivers daily. It will also widen them to allow for a freer flow of water, which is expected to significantly ameliorate chronic flooding across the capital.

The dredging is scheduled to begin along sections of the waterways that are not inhabited by humans.

In the meantime, Fauzi said, the city administration would introduce a relocation plan to riverbank dwellers.

He said those with valid Jakarta ID would be eligible for relocation to low-cost apartments provided by the administration, while those without Jakarta ID would be compensated.

Fauzi said he wanted to introduce the relocation plan as soon as possible to reach the maximum number of affected residents and ensure the plan was accepted without resistance.

“We want [the residents] to have a sense of belonging, so they participate in the upkeep of the rivers and drop their habit of dumping garbage there.”

He added that in addition to dredging, it was crucial to widen the city’s waterways.

“Take the Pesanggrahan River, which should ideally be 40 meters wide,” he said. “Silting and illegal dwellings have narrowed it to 15 meters, which constricts the water flow.”

Stephen F. Lintner, a senior technical adviser at the World Bank, said the project would have major impacts on society and the environment.

He added that the World Bank would ensure riverbank dwellers were aware of the problems leading to widespread flooding and what could be done to reduce it, and would also ensure that residents were relocated with minimal impact to their livelihoods.

“We will focus on effective communication with the community to avoid any type of disruption,” Lintner said.

Meanwhile, Nurkholis Hidayat, a director at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), said the city administration should rethink the relocation.

“The people must have a say in whether they’re moved,” he told the Jakarta Globe. “Relocation must be a last resort.”

Nurkholis urged the city to instead promote environment-based community development, which would allow the residents to live more responsibly along the riverbanks.

By Arientha Primanita & Stephanie Riady (thejakartaglobe)

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Source: thejakartaglobe, August 20, 2010;

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