Government aid remains out of reach for many victims
Andreas D. Arditya, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Sun, January 20 2013, 9:24 AM
Three days into the state of emergency and many affected Jakartans have yet to receive government aid despite the central and local governments’ claims that flood relief was a high priority.
Gustida Budhiartie, 26, said on Saturday that hundreds of residents in her neighborhood in Kebon Me-lati, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, were still struggling.
“We have received no food, no clean water and no medical help from the government. We have to struggle to provide our basic needs ourselves,” Gustida told The Jakarta Post.
Gustida said that around 1,400 residents in two neighborhoods in the area had resorted to setting up their own and only public kitchen. Gustida’s neighborhood — located less than 500 meters from the city’s main thoroughfare of Jl. MH Thamrin — has also been without electricity for the past three days.
Several hundred flood victims from Kebon Melati also sought refuge in the basement of the Grand Indonesia shopping mall after floodwater swamped their houses on Thursday.
A Grand Indonesia security officer, Heru, said the flood victims had stayed on the lower ground and ground floors from Thursday night until Saturday morning, when the waters began to recede, with the shopping mall’s management providing warm food and clothes.
Christina, one of the volunteers helping flood victims in densely populated Muara Angke and Teluk Gong in North Jakarta, said the residents in those areas had not received any aid from the administration, forcing people like herself to voluntarily seek aid for the victims.
“At least 200 families were isolated and they had received no aid until volunteers started to arrive,” she said.
“We finally established an emergency kitchen for the victims today [Saturday]. However, more basics are still needed, like blankets, medicines, milk and diapers,” she said.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) data shows that more than 18,000 people had yet to return to their homes as of Saturday due to the flooding. A total of around 250,000 people have been affected by the disaster, which began on Tuesday.
The death toll increased to 21 as of Saturday afternoon.
In comments made on Saturday, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gave no clear answer as to whether the city administration had enough basic supplies for the flood victims, but admitted that cash disbursements to city agencies had been slow, and that had ultimately affected the procurement of such supplies.
“There’s a possibility they have run out. They probably have,” he told reporters.
Jokowi, however, confirmed that he had personally ordered 50 tons of rice from his hometown in Surakarta, Central Java.
Jokowi was inspecting repair work on a collapsed section of the West Flood Canal near Jl. Latuharhari in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
The canal’s section, on which repair work was expected to be completed on Saturday evening, collapsed on Thursday following exceptionally long-lasting and heavy rainfall.
The Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) reported that it had helped to distribute a total of 825 food packages across the capital.
Several private companies also joined the relief efforts for the flood victims. One of them, Artha Graha, distributed 10,000 packages of basic supplies, such as food, blankets and clothes, and provided evacuation and medical services through its Artha Graha Cares campaign. (nad)