JAKARTA. The governor is back:Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama (right), who is seeking a second term in office in the Feb. 15 gubernatorial election, is seen together with caretaker governor Sumarsono during the administration hand-over ceremony at City Hall on Saturday. Ahok returns to work on Monday after taking leave to campaign for re-election.
Just a day after taking back the reins as Jakarta governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama faced an immediate challenge when parts of the capital were hit by flash floods on Sunday as a result of heavy downpours in West Java.
The Ciliwung River overflowed on Sunday evening, inundating some 700 homes in flood-prone areas of Kampung Arus, Kramatjati, East Jakarta, by up to 70 centimeters. Residents salvaged their belongings to higher ground in anticipation of worse to come.
The Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said incessant rain on Sunday in the upstream area of Bogor, Wst Java, had led to an increase in the water level at the Katulampa sluice gate in Bogor. Authorities raised the status at the Katulampa sluice gate to alert level 3, two counts off the top alert level.
The agency also warned residents of some areas along the Ciliwung River, such as Srengseng Sawah, Rawajati, Kalibata, Pengadengan, Bukit Duri, Cililitan and Kampung Melayu, to anticipate floods.
Separately, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) forecast that thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds would occur throughout Sunday in South Jakarta as well as in Bekasi and Depok, both in West Java.
Flooding has become an annual issue in the metropolis. With 14 rivers flowing through the city from upstream areas to the south and the Java Sea to the north and 40 percent of the area located below sea level, Jakarta is vulnerable to flooding.
Commenting on the latest flooding, Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat said the situation had eased off.
“Thank God we see flooding easing now. There was heavy rain last night until this morning, but we are seeing the inundation quickly recede,” Djarot said on Sunday. He attributed the reduced flooding to the administration’s river-management efforts.
Djarot said the administration would ensure that “river normalization” would continue.
“We don’t want to let any projects be delayed. We found some cases of [delay] during our latest impromptu visits. We will focus on immediately settling those cases,” Djarot asserted.
The Jakarta administration has conducted dredging work on rivers to alleviate flooding.
Ahok said earlier that he hoped Jakarta would be free from floods by 2022.
During the hand-over ceremony on Saturday, Ahok expressed his gratitude toward Sumarsono, who had acted as interim governor for about three-and-a-half months. Ahok praised Sumarsono for his hard work to resolve a dispute over the management of the Bantar Gebang dump site in Bekasi.
The landfill, which used to be managed by private parties, is currently managed by the Jakarta administration.
Sumarsono mentioned in the memorandum that he had secured as many as 136 plots of land for the construction of the city’s first ever mass rapid transit (MRT).
Although the governor has come back to City Hall, Ahok will spend most of Monday at the Agriculture Ministry’s auditorium in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, where a blasphemy trial against him is still ongoing.
The next hearing is expected to present expert witnesses from Ahok’s camp to counter the charges.
One of Ahok’s lawyers, Humphrey Djemat, said the four expert witnesses were Muhammad Amin Suma, a professor from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN), criminal law experts Mudzakkir and Abdul Chair Ramadhan, as well as Indonesian language expert Mahyuni.
Ahok-Djarot return to office ends three-months of campaign leave Flooding affects some 700 homes in East Jakarta. (Ivany Atina Arbi and Damar Harsanto)
Editor: Barratut Taqiyyah