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Wet feet in North Jakarta, 3 YOGYAKARTA - It didn't get better when I carefully lifted the plastic flap and reached outside with my head. A driver on a motorbike which was in some kind of a hurry could hardly avoid me. In front of us a long row of red lights in the streets. Between the vehicles I could mainly see water and more nearby I heard the water gush out of the draining canal onto the pavement and the street. Ooh well, it must be raining heavily somewhere close, because it was quite an amount of water that came rushing towards us. Slowly the three wheels of the bajaj disappeared under water. I was hoping that the water would not reach too high at the end, because after over half an hour in this kind of transport, sitting becomes quite uncomfortable.

Traffic slowly grinded to halt while the rain lashed down around our orange cookie jar with heavier and less heavy intervals. No thunder however, like earlier on the day. Now there was some distant lightning of you took a good look, but most of it was obstructed by these heavy rains. There we were, in a big traffic jam in between rising waters. It is good that I realized that I was close to the sea and also reasonably close by the boarding house where we stayed, because otherwise it was most likely that I already started waking, since I didn't want to take a risk to be forced to swim home. Making pictures outside now wasn't that easy as well, mainly because of the rain and the fact that it had already become dark as well.

At night it's harder to make nice pictures of moving objects. Without flash I managed to create this one. A wheel of an orange bajaj is visible here.
At night it's harder to make nice pictures of moving objects. Without flash I managed to create this one. A wheel of an orange bajaj is visible here. indahnesia.com

Using the flash of the camera causes rain drops to show up like snowflake-like things, not a realistic image at 30 degrees Centigrade. Drowning drivers on motorbikes will get scared as well, which could endanger other road users. Not me, because I am behind some form of a cover, but since I am a social being, I tend to be careful with that. With playing with the settings of the camera I was able to get some pretty decent settings so I was able to make some nice pictures at times we didn't move. Most pictures however were to be thrashed right away, but it was also my first time that I had to use my camera at night and in this kind of weather conditions. Still enough to learn. I also learned that it was better that I bring a rain suit with me and simple plastic sandals. They dry much faster and don't collect dirt as much as other clothing.

Upon approaching the intersection with the main road Jalan Pluit Raya Timur traffic was more free to flow. No water here, so traffic in all directions was able to escape from here, the only exception was the route towards the east, where we had to go as well. It was clear that something was going on there. My 'disaster tourism' feelings played up, but soon I regained consciousness and I realized that it would not be that big of an event. There were also cars coming from that road, so it was not blocked entirely or something. I was happy about that, because such an amount of dirty water in your house is no fun. Of course I was just making some pictures during the evening hours, so I didn't have to worry about my home.

This kind of situations I can easily avoid or at least I can 'escape' the problem, but a vast majority of the people that live here do not have that luxury at all. They simply do not have the financial means to afford a better location in another city or at least at another location in Jakarta. This stretch of land at sea level is the best they can afford. They live at the mouths of several rivers that have collected thrash for hundreds of kilometers and from millions of Indonesians. All that floats by in front of the door here, before it eventually ends up in the sea. Only a small part is taken out of the water every once in a while. Better is to put it out at sea, is what they think here, because a blocked sewer or drainage system causes more problems when the rain begins to fall in this city.

An Indonesian woman and man go home by bike in the pouring rain. They don't wear proper clothing, so before they are home they are most likely soaking wet.
An Indonesian woman and man go home by bike in the pouring rain. They don't wear proper clothing, so before they are home they are most likely soaking wet. indahnesia.com

Indeed not the correct way of thinking, but in a place where tens of thousands of people live on a former mangrove forest you should not expect too much as well. The people who run the country spend their time south of here, but will most likely escape to even better places in one of the many suburbs of the city after working hours. Shortly after new year had started, preparations were made to prevent possible flooding of the presidential palace at Medan Merdeka, the Independence Square. The flood here did not materialize - however big parts of the city of Jakarta were flooded once again - but it is just waiting for the day that the presidential palace is actually flooded. The ultimate humiliation for a country to see your own presidential palace flooded by mismanagement and corruption.

Until that moment, most people who are already familiar with floods should not count on too much of a helping hand from the government, either local, regional or national. The city is expanding at an incredible rate with new toll roads, big drainage canals, a monorail, a subway, dozens of new malls and other objects that are mainly made from concrete being planned or built as we speak. But it is just the opposite that might safe the city and that is a lot of green areas. Nice tall trees along wide and clean rivers through the heart of downtown Jakarta. To make a comparison; now the rivers are completely canalized, river banks are used as slum areas and the trees have died because of the pollution.

Yeah, it is still a long road. Until those better times arrive, I am sure I will be in Jakarta. Sometimes it is just a necessity by the way, but when I arrive there, I will be free to choose where I want to go to look for a nice place where I can keep my feet dry. Waiting until Jakarta has become a better and healthier city is of no use, because that means I would not be able to go there again in my - still young - life. That is the other end of exaggeration of course. So for the coming years or most likely even decades to come, news items about floods in this area of the country will be a regularly returning event. Remember that every time this becomes news, the lives of thousands of ordinary people is severely interrupted. Every single time.

Read the other parts! Wet feet in North Jakarta, 1
Wet feet in North Jakarta, 2



Posted in Flooding @ 14 January 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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