Rainfall intensifies, Jakarta on alert

High-ranking officials and local leaders with the Jakarta administration are on alert following intensifying rainfall in Greater Jakarta.

Deputy Jakarta Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat inspected on Saturday a number of temporary shelters in flood-prone areas in East Jakarta, as well as the Manggarai sluice gate in South Jakarta following heavy rainfall in the capital from Friday night until Saturday morning. Dozens of residents have fled their homes, which became inundated at various depths.

Dozens of evacuees - most of whom were women and children - at a temporary shelter in Kampung Pulo, East Jakarta, welcomed the deputy governor, who came with his wife Happy Farida.

"How are you? What do you do for a living?" Djarot asked a woman evacuee, who said she was a homemaker.

Djarot later asked her whether the women in her neighborhood were interested in participating in entrepreneurship training.

"Would you like to develop skills, such as ways to create delicious snacks from cassava?" to which the woman replied, "of course, Sir. All the women here would love that."

Djarot later told the evacuees that he had instructed local leaders to stay alert in case of more flooding.

"Subdistrict and district leaders, as well as mayors, have been on standby since early Saturday. Don't worry," Djarot said.

Speaking to reporters, Djarot said he had instructed local leaders whose areas were affected by floods to work together to minimise their impacts. "I hope NGOs or civil groups who collect aid for flood victims coordinate with local leaders for the distribution," he said.

During the inspection, Djarot also reiterated the city's relocation programme, saying that the government could not let the flood saga be repeated every year.

"It's not healthy to live like that [...] we also know that garbage contributes to our flood problems, in addition to water-channel issues. That is why I have instructed [the Jakarta Health Agency] to establish health posts and offer check-ups to the evacuees," he said, pointing out that the city would continue its relocation programme.

"Three low-cost apartment towers comprising 500 apartment units will be ready by February so we will start relocating residents living on the riverbanks by then," he said.

When asked whether the city would enforce the policy on residents who own building permits on the riverbanks, he answered, "We will carry out the programme considering the justice principle."

The deputy governor also visited the Manggarai sluice gate to check its status level. A guard reported that the water level at the sluice gate stood at alert 2, the second-highest level.

Aside from establishing temporary shelters, Djarot continued, the city administration had already prepared flood-mitigation infrastructure ahead of the height of the peak of the rainy season, expected to fall between mid-January and February.

"Four broken water pumps [in North Jakarta] have been repaired. They are ready for use," he said.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Greater Jakarta will be hit with downpours of various intensities, ranging from mild to medium, tomorrow.

According to the city administration, more than 600 RWs (community units) out of thousands across the capital are prone to flooding.