This morning, disappointed because I had to cancel my trip home to Jakarta because that city is presently submerged under between 0.5 to 4m of water depending where you are, I decided to watch Al Gore's film Inconvenient Truth. And I can't help to think that Jakarta is going to be the next Atlantis, along with many other cities in the coasts of today's islands and continents.
Global warming in today's coastlines has stopped from being just a jargon and has become real in the faster rate of coastal erosion, harsher storms, shorter but fiercer monsoon, and of course flood. But I think Jakarta's problem is not only global warming. To me Jakarta's problem is aggravated by mismanagement, weak government and economic greed.
I've read many articles and books that stated that flood had been Jakarta's enemy since history noted it. Well, no wonder, most of Jakarta area is on a coastal plain, barely above the sea level, and crisscrossed by many streams. The Dutch colonial government recognised Batavia, as Jakarta used to be called back then, as a city prone to flooding, that's why they build waterways, dams, drains and canals, to try and control the water. Even with all these implemented they still could not succeed very much and Batavia was still flooded from time to time. But at least they did try hard.
Not our government now, who seems only to react when the flood hits the city once a year and stopped economy. No firm hands and strong regulation are implemented to at least help the flood from becoming so severe. In Indonesia greed reigns and money is king. The rainforests at the catchment area of many of Jakarta's rivers have been transformed into luxurious housing estates, hence the streams and rivers moved slowly carrying mud and sediments eroded from upstream. When the monsoon comes no more trees are there to stop the water from just washing downstream.
Jakarta itself has lost much of its catchment areas. Almost all of Jakarta's surface has been covered by concrete and asphalt. Where do they think the water should go? Duh. No proper drainage system has been added since the colonial government, and with no clear regulation, no policy on solid waste management and proper policing, many industrial and household rubbish just end up in the rivers.
The experts say another canal is needed. Indeed another flood canal has been planned. But no money to build it, the government says, the price of land has skyrocketed. Hellooooo.... how much money is lost everytime Jakarta is hit by a big flood that paralyses the economy and shut down businesses like this? Wake up, wake up Jakarta governor, Indonesian president. Aren't you ashamed that our capital is brought to its knees every year by flood? You can do something about it. Please do something! And don't say that even the Dutch who are masters of water controls couldn't even free Batavia from flood, hey at least they tried!
One Jakartan standing in waist-high muddy water that flooded his home was interviewed last night in one of the news channels. He said that if even the government can't do anything about it, what can somebody like him do? He just accepts it. No sir, you can do something. Stop the people in your kampung from throwing rubbish in the river. And it will be governor election soon. Go choose a better governor, who has strong hands and is willing to do something about this and not just greedily take all the money. Grrrhhhhhhhh...........