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Flood lessons must be learnt: Jakarta business

Indonesia correspondent, Helen Brown, Wednesday January 30, 2013 - 00:04 EDT

Jakarta's business community says the city's government should have learnt lessons from previous floods, as the Indonesian capital cleans up after the disaster brought the city to a standstill just over a week ago.

Torrential rains that were predicted on top of the floods did not eventuate, and a state of emergency has passed, leaving the city's residents to ask questions about the city's flood management system.

Vice Chairman of Jakarta Chamber Commerce & Industry, Sarman Simanjorang, said a failure to make the improvements needed to the canal system is creating a huge risk.

"If this is not solved, we are worried that in the future the floods will go higher, and will paralyse the city's economy," Mr Simanjorang told Australia Network.

Business groups said distribution and port links were cut during the floods, and workers couldn't reach offices and factories.

Urban planner, Marco Kusumawijaya, said that authorities had ignored signs that an embankment near his home - which later collapsed - was already weak.

"Because I suspected, and now it is confirmed that, for some time last year I already saw some water seeping out... on the street side, and that makes me think it might be some sign of this collapse," Mr Kusumawijaya said.

Director General Water Resources at the Public Works Ministry, Dr Mohammad Hasan, said the government realises there needs to be improvements in the maintenance of Jakarta's canal system.

Jakarta's Governor, Joko Widodo, said he was surprised floodwaters rushed into the city centre from the broken canal.

Mr Widodo had already started work on flood management systems before the latest floods, and is pushing for more.

The national government has also said it will speed up several flood management projects.


© ABC 2013

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