SEALEVEL-SUBSIDENCE/JAKARTA Indonesia’s capital builds giant sea wall to stop it from sinkingRecord ID: 571315
- Title: SEALEVEL-SUBSIDENCE/JAKARTA Indonesia’s capital builds giant sea wall to stop it from sinking
- Date: 23rd December 2014
- Summary: JAKARTA, INDONESIA (RECENT - DECEMBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) THE WORLD BANK'S SENIOR WATER AND SANITATION EXPERT, FOOK CHUAN ENG SEATED DURING AN INTERVIEW CHUAN ENG LISTEN TO QUESTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) THE WORLD BANK'S SENIOR WATER AND SANITATION EXPERT, FOOK CHUAN ENG SAYING: "About half of Jakarta that means the northern half of Jakarta is right now already at or below sea levels. If you compare this against the other cities in this region - Manila, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City - they all also suffer from land subsidence, but the rates that we have seen in Jakarta is actually above those other cities."
- Reuters ID: LVA7MOHS7LHRBQ89PDU2ZUYNL094
- Location: Indonesia
- Country: Indonesia
- Duration: 00:00:38
- Topics: General
- Story Text: The Ciliwung river flows from the Mount Mandalawangi volcano, south of Indonesia's capital Jakarta, through the heart of one of the world's most densely populated cities and almost into Jakarta Bay.
Almost, because for the final mile or so of its course, the river would have to flow uphill to reach the bay. The same is true for the rest of the half-dozen sewage choked rivers that wind though central Jakarta.
Greater Jakarta, an agglomeration of 28 million people, sits on a swampy plain that has sunk 13 feet (4 meters) over the past three decades. Today, 40 percent of the city is below sea level.
Clogged water ducts and poor drainage system do not help when torrential rain hits the city. In 2013, the city center was inundated after overnight rains, killing at least two people.
Expert said the sinking rate of Jakarta is one of the fastest and most worrying in the region, with Jakarta seeing rates up to 17 centimeters per year along the coastal areas, and an average of seven centimeters per year over the whole of Jakarta.
"About half of Jakarta that means the northern half of Jakarta is right now already at or below sea levels. If you compare this against the other cities in this region - Manila, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City - they all also suffer from land subsidence, but the rates that we have seen in Jakarta is actually above those other cities," said Fook Chuan Eng, senior water and sanitation specialist with the World Bank, who oversees a $189 million flood mitigation project for the city, funded mostly by the bank.
Jakarta is sinking because of a phenomenon called subsidence. This happens when extraction of groundwater causes layers of rock and sediment to slowly pancake on top of each other.
The problem is particularly acute in Jakarta because most of its residents suck water through wells that tap shallow underground aquifers.
To wall off an inevitable inundation from the sea Indonesia decided to focus on bolstering coastal defenses and refurbishing the crumbling flood canal system.
The government kicked off a $263 million project in October to build a giant sea wall along the coast of Jakarta using technical assistance from the Dutch government.
The National Capital Integrated Coastal Development Master Plan, better known as the "Great Garuda" or the "Giant Sea Wall", will include a 15-mile outer seawall and 17 artificial islands that will close off the Bay of Jakarta.
This will be six to eight kilometers offshore and will create a big fresh water lake. From the air, it will look like a giant Garuda, the bird-god of Hindu mythology that is Indonesia's national symbol.
"And this sea wall is really gigantic, it will be 25 kilometres long, it will be built in 16 to 20 meters of deep water, and basically we're going to build a totally new city on top of that. And this new city should also create room for the already densely populated Jakarta." said Victor Coenen, Chief representative of Dutch engineering and consulting firm Witteven+Bos in Indonesia, who was part of the government's Dutch consulting team.
The entire sprawl of Jakarta's north coast - fishing ports, boatyards, markets, warehouses, fish and seaweed farms, crowded slums and exclusive gated communities - is all sinking.
Even the 40-year-old seawall that is supposed to keep the Java Sea from inundating this vast swath of the city is sinking.
The seawall has been incorporated into the life of coastal communities. Narrow homes and shops perch atop it, along with rusting anchors, broken machinery, and boat repair yards, causing the wall to buckle in places.
Just behind the seawall sits the Muara Baru village that is home to more than 100,000 people, now at least 6 feet below sea level.
"Of course we are worried, especially this area is often flooded during high tide. If the sea wall is breached this place would be inundated. When there's a high tide the ships float almost at the same height as the sea wall, we can see the ships from here," resident Rahmawati told Reuters.
As subsidence has allowed saltwater to flow into the water table, well water has been made undrinkable, adding another challenge for locals living in the coastal districts.
Due to tap water supply being limited, residents are having to rely on water vendors who drag long carts filled with 20-liter jerrycans of water around the villages. One jerrycan costs about 500 Indonesian rupiah ($4).
Higher seas and sinking cities mean storms and floods are having a greater impact. And the frequency of these events is increasing too. Recorded floods and severe storms in Southeast Asia have risen six times from fewer than 20 from 1960 to 1969 to nearly 120 from 2000 to 2008, according to an Asian Development Bank study.
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