Indonesia

Flooding threatens access to crucial port

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Linda Yulisman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Out for a canter: A horse runs across the Jakarta-Merak toll road in Serang, Banten, on Monday, forcing motorists to take evasive action. Antara/Asep Fathulrahman Businessmen say they are worried that flooding in Banten has disrupted vehicles carrying goods to Merak seaport and want another way to transport goods to Sumatra as rainy season peaks.

Incessant rain in several regencies in Banten over the past four days has caused floods, which, among other things, inundated Kilometers 58 and 59 of the toll road between Jakarta and Merak on Sunday, leading to traffic jams up to 35 kilometers long.

Natsir Mansyur, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Kadin) vice chairman for trade, distribution and logistics, said on Monday that the government had to open another seaport to ship goods between Java and Sumatra, a route that accounts for up to 30 percent of the nation’s logistics flow.

As a temporary solution, he said, the government could provide roll-on/roll-off vessels at the country’s main seaport, Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, to deliver trucks to Bakauheni seaport in Lampung, Sumatra.

“Such problems arise every year as our de-bottlenecking effort has not progressed,” Natsir said over the telephone.

Merak seaport, from which hundreds of trucks depart for Sumatra on a daily basis, was the principal hub for transporting a wide range of manufactured products, including household appliances, automobiles and motorcycles, Natsir said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported on Sunday that continuous rain over the last few days triggered floods up to 5 meters deep in Lebak, Pandeglang, Serang, Serang mayoralty, Cilegon mayoralty and Tangerang, while a landslide was recorded in Lebak regency.

The floods left three people dead, more than 13,000 homes inundated, and 2,000 residents living on the banks of the Ciujung River in Serang, Banten or seeking shelter along the shoulder of the toll road.

The flood also disrupted the flow of goods between Sumatra to Java.

A large number of trucks were seen lining up on Sunday on Jl. Cikuasa Atas, a 4-kilometer stretch of road linking the port to the toll road between Tangerang and Merak.

The line had dissipated by 6 a.m. Monday morning, as reported by kompas.com.

Indah Permanasari, the spokesperson for toll road operator PT Marga Mandala Sakti said on Monday evening that Kilometer 50, one of the lowest parts of the toll road, remained inundated while the waters between Kilometers 58 and 59 had receded.

“However, the inundation is only found on the shoulder of the toll road and has not reached the main road. We’ve placed sandbags, resulting in a slowdown in the flow of vehicles between Kilometers 47 and 50 to a speed between 30 kilometers and 40 kilometers per hour,” she told the Post via a text message.

It is expected that within the next few weeks, Greater Jakarta will be hit by five year cyclical heavy flooding that could disrupt business activities including logistics to and from the capital.