Friday, February 25, 2005

Flooding worsens in south Bandung

Source: The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, Bandung/Yogyakarta

Heavy rain over the last two days has increased the area under water in south Bandung regency, with 18 out of 45 districts inundated on Thursday in what is said to be the worst flooding in the last 10 years.

A deficient drainage system and chaotic waste management in Bandung municipality are being blamed for the floods, which have lead to a shortage of food and potable water in the worst affected areas.

Sunarya, a 43-year-old resident of Citepus subdistrict, Dayeuhkolot, criticized the Bandung administration's lack of concern for the flood victims as it was currently focusing all of its attention on the garbage slide at a dump outside Bandung.

She said that the flood victims had received little attention, forcing them to search for food and potable water on their own.

"Our house has been inundated by water for five days now. How can we get food when the factory where I work has also been affected by the floods," said the mother of three.

This time around, the floods have also affected normally flood-free areas, such as Bojongsoang, Margaasih and Majalaya districts. Hundreds of houses in Bandung municipality were also inundated by floodwater of up to 20 centimeters deep.

The director of Bandung regency's Disaster Prevention Coordination Unit, Edin Hendradin, admitted he had little time to concern himself with the flood victims as he was busy attending meetings to deal with the landslide disaster.

According to figures from 18 districts, more than 30,000 homes housing around 100,000 people have been hit by the floods.

"Most of the people there are used to floods and they know how to help themselves. We in the regental administration are still concentrating on the garbage slide. I'm sorry," Edin told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Dayeuhkolot residents, especially those in Citepus and Cangkuang villages, urged the administration to dredge the Citarum river. More than 20,000 people in Dayeuhkolot have been living in shelters for the last five days since their homes were inundated by floodwaters of up to a meter deep.

"We want the river dredged as soon as possible as it costs us a great deal to live in the shelters. We can't work and our belongings are all gone," said Inen, head of Dayeuhkolot district's information section.

The lack of concern was clear from the dearth of aid donated to the flood victims. A previous donation from the Indonesian Red Cross is almost finished, with only 30 boxes of instant noodles, two boxes of mineral water and two boxes of biscuits left.

West Java Environmental Impact Management Agency director Ade Suhanda blamed poorly developed drainage systems in north Bandung for worsening the flooding in south Bandung.

"A primitive drainage system, as well as damaged water ducts and garbage result in the runoff from the rain flowing directly into the lower lying areas in south Bandung," he said, adding that any river dredging project would be a waste if the drainage and waste disposal systems were not upgraded.

"The Citarum was deepened by three meters in 1999 but the endless garbage and silt have rendered the effort useless," he said.

Flooding also hit Yogyakarta after heavy rain on Wednesday, which resulted in the Code river bursting its banks and inundating houses with water up to a meter in depth.

Hundreds of residents, who moved to higher ground with their families on Wednesday, returned to their homes on Thursday.

A Jogoyudan resident, Suryanto, said the water level of the river started to rise on Wednesday afternoon and by 8 p.m. that evening, it had reached four meters high at the nearby sluice gate.

"We've been preparing for the worst so when the warning came that there would be flooding, we quickly moved to safety," said Suryanto, whose house was inundated to a depth of one meter.

Local irrigation office director Joko Santoso said that flooding was an annual problem in the area.