Crumbling seawall heightens worries over flood threat to Indonesian capital

JAKARTA: When part of a seawall protecting Jakarta collapsed last week near fisherman Awing Takalar's shack it brought back bad memories of when another levee burst in 2007 and all his belongings were washed away.

Fortunately, the tides have not been high, and residents in the exposed section of the Indonesian capital's northern shoreline have not been affected yet. But Takalar knows his luck could run out.



"My worry is that the water is higher than the land," said Takalar, 46, who said he was concerned for the safety of his teenage daughter when she was alone in their one-roomed home in the poor Muara Baru area of Jakarta.

When the sea breached the levee 12 years ago, he took his family back to their home in Sulawesi.

"When it got better, I returned again," he said, adding that once his daughter has finished school he might leave the area for good.

Jarot Widyoko, director of rivers and coasts at Indonesia's public works and public housing ministry, said an investigation was underway into why a 170-metre stretch of the 2.3 km wall near Muara Baru was damaged. It was only built in the last few years.



The incident has thrown a spotlight on efforts to shore up parts of the low-lying city from being inundated in coming years.

Jakarta is slowly sinking due to an over-extraction of ground water causing subsidence, with rising sea levels making the threat of flooding even worse and pushing the city to come up with elaborate programmes to protect residents.

READ: Far more people at risk of rising seas than feared: Climate study

In 2014, the government announced a plan to build a giant seawall along the coast as part of a US$40 billion project to protect the city until 2030.

The planned seawall, which was part of what had been dubbed the "Great Garuda" for its resemblance to the wing span of the mythical bird, included a stalled plan to build a new city on a string of reclaimed islands in Jakarta bay.

READ: Staying in Jakarta: Will a great sea wall protect Indonesia's capital from coastal flooding?

READ: Residents fear Jakartas sinking problem will be sidelined with Indonesias capital move

The collapsed section is part of the first of three phases under the National Capital Read More – Source