Jakarta – Residents living alongside the Ciliwung River canal in Kebon Manggis, Matraman, East Jakarta, have raised concerns over their safety after Jl. Kesatrian X, a street running in front of their houses and right beside the canal, collapsed on Tuesday.
The subsided 50-meter section of the street forced motorcycles and cars onto alternative routes on Wednesday, leaving only about 30 centimeters of space for residents to walk along the street.
The East Jakarta Water Resources Management Agency and the Public Facility Maintenance Agency (PPSU) began to build a gabion wall to reinforce the riverbank on Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm really concerned about the safety of living here because of the incident," said a resident named Rubinah. "I'm afraid that it might damage my house."
The road section collapsed on Tuesday morning after overflowing water from the Manggarai sluice gate – located around 900 meters from the place of the incident – flooded the water canal along the street.
The water level at the sluice gate increased due to heavy rain in Jakarta – which had also caused floods in at least 294 community units across the capital last week.
The water gradually eroded the riverbank and, on Feb. 25, caused the street to crack, authorities said. As the volume of water in the river kept increasing, the crack abruptly widened, causing the street to collapse.
It was the second such incident that occurred on Jl. Kesatrian. In February 2018, another section of the street collapsed after failing to withstand the weight of overloaded vehicles. The Jakarta administration had repaired the street immediately after the incident, installing a gabion wall alongside the riverbank on the affected section.
Rubinah expressed fear that children who played around on the street almost every day might accidentally fall into the canal.
Heri, the head of neighborhood unit RT 12 in Kebon Manggis, said the incident had forced him and other residents to set up a 24-hour surveillance post near the collapsed street to warn people living in the area.
"Living safely in our own neighborhood is our main concern at the moment, so we are committed to protecting residents day and night," Heri said.
The fact that East Jakarta authorities quickly send officials to inspect the area on Tuesday and talk to the locals had gradually allayed their concerns, he added.
However, he urged the administration to improve flood mitigation along the street, saying a gabion wall was not the solution.
"We don't want the administration to build gabions anymore, because it only causes more damage to the street. We want the administration to place concrete sheet piles at the riverbank, just like any other rivers in Jakarta, to improve soil retention," he said.
East Jakarta Water Resources Management Agency head Santo said his office was aware of the residents' demand to install concrete sheet piles.
However, he said, sheet pile projects were not under the authority of his agency; instead that was the responsibility of the Ciliwung-Cisadane Flood Control Office (BBWSCC) – an agency under the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
"Therefore, building a gabion wall at the riverbank is not our long-term solution, as it's merely a part of our emergency response. However, we have coordinated with the BBWSCC regarding the residents' demand," Santo said.
The agency, according to Santo, deployed around 20 officers every day to build the wall, which was expected to be completed next month.
The agency has also been working to identify other riverbanks across East Jakarta prone to subsidence.
Santo said his team would in particular keep an eye on residential areas near the Buaran River in Kalimalang and neighborhoods alongside the Sunter River.
"We just hope that similar accidents won't happen in other places in East Jakarta," he said. (glh)