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Three thousand people have been affected by flooding in Jakarta on April 19 and 20. The floods were a direct result of heavy rainfall on Wednesday. However, there are wider issues when it comes to Jakarta and flooding. Recent floods have convinced many that large-scale building development in Jakarta has led the city to become increasingly vulnerable to flooding, especially from the nearby rivers. There are as many as 13 rivers nearby the city, many of which need better channelling and flood defences if the city is to remain flood free. In the past, flood waters had plenty of space to escape in the green, marshy areas north of the city. But today these areas contain high rise buildings and shopping malls. Historically the colonial Dutch had built around 300 dams and lakes to help contain or drain the river water. However today it is believed that there are only 50 of these structures left.
This time it was the Ciliwung and Cipinang Rivers which burst their banks. The result was widespread flooding, with flood water levels reported to be as high as 1.2 meters in some areas of the city. The rainfall hit the previous night (Wednesday) and it wasn’t long until the floods hit the Jakarta streets, with many floods being reported as early as 2am Thursday. Later that day the flood water levels had dropped to about 60 cm.
This resulted in nearly 1000 homes being hit. Jakarta residents are fairly hardened to flooding these days, and few bothered to evacuate. Instead most simply moved belongings to higher levels to keep them away from the flood waters.
According to the Jakarta post, the parts of the city affected included:
Kampung Melayu and Bidara Cina in Jatinegara sub-district, which were inundated for the sixth time in four months this year; Cawang and Kramat Jati in Kramat Jati; Pinang Ranti and Cipinang Melayu in Makasar; and Kampung Gedong in Pasar Rebo.
There have been many cases of floods in Jakarta in recent years. This is in part to poor flood defences on the city’s various rivers:
Ucok Bangsawan Harahap, the Kramat Jati subdistrict chief, said levees lining the Cipinang River were too low and plans were in place to heighten them by another two meters.
Densely populated neighborhoods and slum areas along the banks of the Ciliwung River and Cipinang River in East Jakarta as well as the Pesanggrahan River in South Jakarta are regular subjects of flooding whenever heavy rain in the area of Bogor sends a surge of water downstream and into the city.
Jakarta is just seeing the end of the rainy season. Dryer weather is predicted to come in the next few weeks. Hopefully that means these floods have now passed and we won’t see a repeat of the large scale destruction of the 2007 Jakarta floods, which left as many as 50 people dead and 46,000 evacuated from their homes. Earlier in 2013 in January, Jakarta was flooded again, leaving 18,000 people to flee their homes.