Indonesia: Banten province gets ready for floods

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Multa Fidrus , The Jakarta Post , Banten | Wed, 11/05/2008 10:37 AM | City - As the wet season approaches, Banten's provincial administration has been making moves to mitigate the effects of floods that will likely occur across the province in the middle of this month.

The administration has spent Rp 10 billion (US$950,000) building several embankments designed to hold back overflow of river water in Pandeglang, Lebak, Serang regencies and Serang municipality, an official said.

To cope with possible flooding in Tangerang regency the provincial administration has spent the Rp 135 billion it received from the central government last year.

The money disbursed by the central government from the 2007 state budget has been used to finance the repair of dam sluices and dredge mud at Bendungan Pintu X in Pasar Baru subdistrict, Tangerang municipality, Situ (lake) Parigi, Situ Pamulang, Situ Cilandak, Situ Ciputat and along the Cirarab river.

"All of the flood handling projects are now underway," head of the provincial Resettlement and Water Resource Agency Winardjono said on Tuesday.

He said 87 locations in Banten are prone to flooding. Of them, 63 are spread across Tangerang regency, with 14 in Pandeglang and six in Lebak. The remaining four are in the Serang regency.

Tb. Baihaki, head of society protection at the National Safety Office, said that the administration had also spent Rp 1.48 billion purchasing four rubber boats, a minibus and a pick-up truck to evacuate flood victims, as well as 178 army tents, 77 tarpaulin tents and utensils for public kitchens.

The provincial Geophysics and Meteorology Agency (BMG) predicted that heavy rain would begin in mid November.

The Tangerang municipal administration has also taken a number of measures, such as preparing water pumps, dredging rivers and setting up a crisis prevention team, in preparation for the wet season.

"We have built and repaired several embankments in certain areas prone to flooding," Mayor Wahidin Halim said. The embankments have been built at several flood-prone points along the Cisadane, Sabi and Angke rivers, to prevent water from entering residential areas in Cileduk, Cibodas, Karawaci, Periuk and Pinang districts.

Wahidin said the total budget needed to completely free the municipality from flood disasters was around Rp 1.5 trillion.

"We will likely start the dredging, the widening and the straightening of rivers flowing through the municipality next year, because the central government has promised to disburse flood handling funds in 2009," he said.

Around 150,000 houses in Periuk, Jatiuwung, Karawaci, Pinang, Cipondoh, Cibodas and Cileduk districts are prone to annual flooding.

Widespread flooding in Tangerang regency earlier last year resulted in a temporary but significant 20 percent increase in unemployment, as many factories were forced to stop production.

The floods also damaged 23,716 hectares of rice fields in Tangerang regency, causing farmers losses of Rp 35 billion.