29 October 2007

The Monsoon Season

The monsoon season will soon be upon us for another year. But perhaps a more apt description is the annual flood season will soon be inundating us with its ever-increasing levels of water! After the debacle of last year and the promises to fix and provide new infrastructure to deal with the monsoon rains it will soon be time to find out whether the Government of Jakarta are as good as their word. There has been a change of leadership and it is probably unfair to judge the new Governor on this year's damage if there is any. Yet, when it is all said and done, he is the most recent Deputy Governor and he could have made this his pet project and a significant policy platform of his new administration during the recent election campaign, but he did not! Perhaps the next couple of months may highlight why!

The official start of the monsoon season has already been pushed back 20 or so days as the collective brains at the meteorological agencies have analyzed the most recent data and the temperatures are not indicative of any immediate rain. Even without any scientific knowledge of the weather, I know that the rainy season has started because last month it might have rained once and during the last week it has rained four out of seven days - good enough for me!

There is a desperate need for the development of infrastructure to deal with the flood issue and the installation of a pump here and there in conjunction with adding a few extra bricks to the top of a flood wall or gate is not really the answer. The answer is committing to completing all of the flood canals that the Government of Jakarta has been talking about for the past 20 years or so. There is also a need to educate the community that you cannot just continue to throw your trash into the canals that are already there or the rivers, streams, or ocean.

It is critical that the new Government of Jakarta develop public policy initiatives to address the flood problem. This public policy then needs to evolve into sustainable and enforceable laws and regulations. Jakartans are no different from any other human being, if you cannot convince them on policy only then bribe them with incentives. Bribe in this case does not have the negative connotation that you probably have jumped on, but simply the Government can extend incentives and facilities in addition to what are already available to those that evidence a commitment to the reduction of pollution and other flood-related factors.

It is simply a case of you trash your environment and your environment will trash you!

In the almost 15 years that I have been in Jakarta and the surrounds (mainly Bekasi) I have been fortunate to have never been flooded out of my various contract / rented houses. That is not to say that some times the rain has not been a pain in, the proverbial, arse with a leaky roof and a paper-thin piece of plywood between me, my bed, and the rain. But I gotta say I am glad that I do not have to replace my furniture and white goods every year as a result of rain damage!

If I was a Jakartan and I if could vote, then I would have demanded from my candidates a policy commitment to tackling this annual problem! Alas, I am not and I cannot and so I did not do any of those things. Thank goodness for blogging because if nothing else at least I have a soap box to preach from!

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