Indonesia: Surakarta plans relocation of flood victims

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 10 Oct 16;

The Surakarta city administration in Central Java has no choice but to relocate residents from flooded low-lying parts of the city as these places are inherently prone to flooding.

Floods repeatedly hit residential areas along the banks of the Jenes River in Pasar Kliwon district and Premulung River in Laweyan district, in downtown Surakarta.

Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo said there was no short-term solution for the flooding because the floods were related to the natural conditions and the environment.

“The recent flooding was due to the massive volume of water flowing from Boyolali and Klaten. There is only a long-term solution. The people have to be relocated to rusunawa [low-cost rental apartments],” Rudy said, referring to two neighboring regencies.

Floods hit downtown Surakarta on Tuesday, inundating hundreds of houses along the banks of the Jenes and Premulung rivers up to 50-90 centimeters in depth and forcing some 1,000 people to flee their homes. The flooding subsided at about midnight.

Rudy said the flooding was made worse by the narrow width of the rivers and thick sedimentation. As such, the capacity of the rivers to accommodate rainwater from Boyolali and Klaten had decreased.

As a short-term solution, Rudy added, he could only evacuate affected people to safer places. For the long-term solution, the banks of the two rivers as well as of those of the Pepe River in Boyolali needed to be widened and strengthened.

“The city administration has coordinated with the Bengawan Solo River Agency [BBWSBS] for the normalization of the rivers. Hopefully this can be realized next year,” he said.

At least 400 families or over 1,000 people live along the banks of the Jenes and Premulung rivers. The city administration has developed nine rusunawa complexes in five areas. So far, priority to live in the rusunawa has been given to families residing along the river banks.

Meanwhile, some residents of Bumi subdistrict expressed the hope that the government would dredge and normalize the Jenes River, arguing that the inability of the river to accommodate rainwater from Boyolali and Klaten had resulted in floods in their area. They also blamed garbage dumped in the river for the situation.

“If dredged, rainwater from Boyolali would run smoothly so that no relocation would be needed,” said local resident Bahtiar, 54, adding that the river had not been dredged for years.

Separately, head of daily operations of the city’s disaster mitigation agency (BPBD), Gatot Sutanto, said the city was facing an increased flood threat. Apart from Bengawan Solo, the threat of flooding also came from the Pepe, Kali Anyar, Jenes and Premulung rivers, he said.

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