At least 422 residents of Penajam district in North Penajam Paser regency – the planned location of Indonesia’s new capital in East Kalimantan – have been affected by floods that hit the area on Tuesday morning.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBD) said in a statement that authorities were still assessing damages in the affected areas of the district’s Riko subdistrict and Bukit Subur village as of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
The flood, which affected 379 people in Bukit Subur village and 43 people in Riko subdistrict, severely damaged a wooden bridge above a river in the area, preventing locals from easily crossing it by car or motorbike, the BNPB said.
A joint task force comprising North Penajam Paser Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) personnel and local officials had installed safety ropes on the bridge to help residents cross it and made sure that supplies were properly distributed.
Local authorities also used canoes in several areas to evacuate residents.
“The water level was 0.8 to 1.9 meters high,” BNPB Disaster Information Center head Agus Wibowo said on Tuesday.
Siltation and a large amount of garbage in the river were among the main factors behind the flooding in Bukit Subur, while the flood in Riko subdistrict was mostly due to high-intensity rainfall, Agus said.
He said that the areas had poor cellular connections as result of the floods, which made it difficult for local authorities to submit timely reports on the situation to the agency’s emergency operation center.
Affected residents faced difficulties cooking meals due to a lack of resources, Agus said, adding that they were currently in dire need of food supplies, hygiene products and mattresses.
According to BNPB data, North Penajam Paser regency was hit by floods at least 31 times between 2010 and 2019. A flood in 2013 saw one casualty while three houses were damaged during a flood in 2018.
North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara regencies in East Kalimantan were chosen as the locations of the country’s future capital city, which is to replace the heavily populated and polluted Jakarta.
The project is estimated to cost Rp 466 trillion (US$32.7 billion) with construction to begin this year.