Governor criticised for always blaming Jakarta floods on heavy rain, climate change

CNN Indonesia – October 11, 2022
Anies Baswedan visiting flooded area in Jakarta – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has criticised a statement by Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan who blamed extreme weather as the only cause of floods in the capital.

Walhi Jakarta campaigner Muhammad Aminullah believes there are other factors besides the weather which have caused the floods, namely special planning which is in a state of disarray.

"The government cannot continuously scapegoat rain and nature. The climate does also have an influence, but it cannot continue to [blame] the climate crisis, protected the government on grounds such as this", said the man who is known as Anca when speaking with CNN Indonesia on Tuesday October 11.

"If the drainage is bad, there's minimal absorption areas, the absorption capacity is also bad, that's human error, in this case the government's, not a problem of rain. So don't blame nature", he said.

Aminullah explained that the drainage system in Jakarta is only capable of accommodating 100mm of rain a day, yet the rainfall debit is more than this. "When the rainfall is higher, the water will overflow", he said.

In addition to this, the water absorption capacity of the land in Jakarta is very low, only 10 percent. Meaning, he said, 90 percent of the water cannot be absorbed by the land.

This is caused by the large number of buildings and small number of absorption areas. It is because of this that water which should be absorbed by the ground has difficulties doing so.

Aminullah added that instead of dealing with this the provincial government issued Gubernatorial Regulation Number 118/2020 on special utilisation, which made it easier to get building permits (IMB).

He noted that in 2021 alone, the Jakarta provincial government issued around 1[0],000 [sic] IMBs, a 40 percent increase on 2020 when there were 6,798 IMBs issued.

"Open green space (RTH) meanwhile, has just been ignored, moreover the RTH which was reportedly at 9 or 11 percent, is currently only 5 percent", he said.

Furthermore, Aminullah also highlighted the construction of concrete pilings along the Ciliwung River, which results in little of the flowing water being absorbed.

"The treatment at the river (Ciliwung) is also wrong, lining a river with concrete pilings is absolutely fatal. They shouldn't be contained by concrete pilings because the [river banks] function as absorption areas", he said.

"When the river water debit is high because of rain or water flowing from the hills, the river banks will absorb water. If they are concreted up, the water will instead just flow directly downstream without being absorbed by the areas surrounding the river, and the flow will be faster", he said.

Recently, there has been flooding in several parts of Jakarta. One such flood in the Pondok Labu area in South Jakarta on Thursday October 6 caused a wall at the Madrasah Tsanawiyah Negeri (MTsN) 19 junior high school to collapse injuring three students.

Anies Baswedan has spoken out about the floods which have hit several parts of the capital saying that they are a consequence of extremely high rainfall.

"It's like this, the rain which we've been getting over the last few days was relatively extreme. It's been experienced all over Indonesia", said Baswedan when speaking in the Old City area of North Jakarta on Monday October 10. (yla/isn)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Walhi Kritik Anies soal Banjir Jakarta: Jangan Kambing Hitamkan Hujan".]