‘We never learn from experience’
Although there are floods in the city every year, no one was prepared for a full-scale disaster as we saw in Jakarta over the last week. The Jakarta Post asked some residents for their opinions on how to minimize the impact of flooding.
Vieta, in her 30s, is a policewoman. She lives in Cipinang, East Jakarta:
There are many sad stories about the flood but none so sad as the government’s slow response to the disaster. I understand officials are in the habit of going about things slowly, but not when people’s lives are in danger.
Floods are a yearly occurrence and yet no one seems to do anything to stop them, they just wait for the rain to come down and river levels to rise.
In the long term, to prevent such a disaster, the government needs to put the city spatial plan into practice. It’s inconceivable that only 6 percent of the city is made up of water catchment areas.
If they developed the city according to a good spatial plan, it wouldn’t be like this. Buildings are going up everywhere — every square inch of land has been concreted over. Main thoroughfares are the first to flood. Residents of the city have gained nothing from this so-called development.
Amir is a journalist working in Palmerah, South Jakarta:
We never seem to learn from experience. As a reporter who covered the flood from day one, I can say the government’s response was weak in the first two days. There was no sign that help was on the way, particularly in areas that were not considered high risk.
We need a flood mitigation plan, because the city is inundated every year. Every aspect of flood control and disaster management should be put down on paper.
In fact, the whole thing turned into an emergency — even the evacuation process — because rescue workers do not possess the necessary skills and equipment.
It is surely not enough if one subdistrict with thousands of evacuees only has one makeshift kitchen.
Many people have complained of unfairness in the distribution of aid. Only on days four and five did the government seem to have things under control. By then, many of the people who were left hungry had found their own food.
In the long run, the government should be better prepared for disaster. Defense structures should be built in flood-prone areas and rescue workers properly trained. Every institution should have its own disaster response guidelines and young people should receive disaster management training.
— The Jakarta Post