10/19/2022, 12.53
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Jakarta: new governor called upon to solve flooding problem

by Mathias Hariyadi

The capital is crossed by 13 rivers, the largest being the Ciliwung. Every year, floods cause the evacuation of hundreds of people. Heru Budi Hartono has resumed a plan to upgrade the banks suspended in 2019.



Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Jakarta's new interim governor, Heru Budi Hartono, will have to deal with the floods that inundate the capital every year. In the past two weeks, Jakarta and the Bogor regency have been hit by several floods: the authorities evacuated more than 460 people; 3,662 houses were damaged due to floods and landslides in East Java province.

A loyalist of President Joko Widodo, since his appointment on 17 October Hartono has banned Jakarta officials from taking holidays during the rainy season and resumed a project to upgrade the Ciliwung River, abandoned by his predecessors, Anies Baswedan and Deputy Ahmad Riza Patria.

The project was initially pursued in 2017 by the then Chinese-born Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok. The plan was to 'clean up' the banks of the Ciliwung River of squatter settlements and stem flooding by 2024.

Jakarta is crossed by 13 rivers, the largest of which is the Ciliwung. Heavy urbanisation in recent years has led to uncontrolled housing growth along its banks, causing the banks to silt up. As a result, recurring overflows force some of the inhabitants to seek refuge elsewhere, including in Catholic structures.

After Baswedan's election as Jakarta's governor, the project was abandoned because the city had accumulated huge debts: the purchase of 118 plots of land around the river, for which 160 billion rupiah (USD 11.4 million) had been earmarked, was halted in 2019. The original plan was to turn the river banks into a 17.5-kilometre-long pedestrian area, but only a little more than one kilometre has been completed so far. Many residents opposed the forced relocation.

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