Floods take toll, slow down logistics

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Linda Yulisman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 01/16/2012 9:26 AM

Incessant rain in several regencies in Banten province over the past three days has triggered floods and landslides, leaving not only three people dead and more than 13,000 homes inundated, but also hampering the flow of goods from Sumatra to Java and vice versa, an agency said on Sunday.

The Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a press statement that residents in Lebak, Pandeglang, Serang, Serang mayoralty, Cilegon mayoralty and Tangerang had to deal with floods of up to five meters deep, while a landslide also struck in Lebak regency.

He said that the Banten floods had affected the Jakarta–Merak toll road at kilometer 58 and 59, forcing a reroute of traffic causing traffic jams as long as 35 kilometers.

“Based on our observation, the floodwater is still more than one meter deep making the road impassable to trucks,” Suharno, an official with toll road operator PT Marga Mandala Sakti, told The Jakarta Post by telephone on Sunday, confirming the BNPB information.

The toll road operator diverted vehicles going from Jakarta to Merak through the Serang Timur exit gate and along Serang’s arterial route to reenter the toll road at the Balaraja Barat gate because of the flooding.

Meanwhile, vehicles from Merak port in Banten heading to Jakarta were instructed to take the opposite diverted route, Suharno said.

Prasetyo B. Utomo, the business director of state-owned ferry operator PT ASDP Ferry Indonesia said, however, that the schedule of ferries crossing from Merak seaport to Bakauheni seaport in Lampung had not yet been disrupted.

“As today is Sunday, there is no queue [yet] of vehicles to cross, although areas inside the port are crowded by vehicles,” he told the Post.

By 9:40 p.m., the flooding had reportedly started to recede.

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 city. In 2007, major floods paralyzed Jakarta for several days, causing a total loss of Rp 8 trillion (US$880 million).

As the rainy season started this month, all stakeholders were urged to prepare for the floods.

BNPB’s Sutopo said the floods in Banten also forced 2,000 residents living on the Ciujung River banks in Serang, Banten, to leave their homes and shelter along the shoulders of the Jakarta–Merak toll road.

The BNPB, assisted by the local disaster mitigation agencies and administrations, has responded to the emergency situation by providing necessary assistance including evacuation. Officers of the National Police and soldiers also helped evacuate residents whose houses had been devastated by the flood.

“The number of evacuees has increased. From the Kragilan sub-district, there are 1,158 people [that have been evacuated],” Banten Disaster Mitigation Agency Chief Suyadi Wiraatmadja said on Sunday.

He said that the Kragilan subdistrict was one of the places that suffered most because of the extreme rain, as it was located close to the Ciujung River.

The BNPB reported that floods also inundated various cities across the country including Pati in Central Java, Bojonegoro, Lamongan, Nganjuk in East Java, Sambas in West Kalimantan and West Kutai and Kutai in East Kalimantan. (awd)