New face of Jakarta’s giant sea wall includes toll road, 2,000-ha reclamation plan

Residents walk past tidal flood in Muara Angke, North Jakarta in 2017. (JP / Seto Wardhana). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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JAKARTA, Jul 23, 2019, The Jakarta Post. Jakarta’s controversial giant sea wall project — initially called Great Garuda because the wall was to resemble the mythical bird — is entering its second phase of development with a new design involving a 2,000-hectare reclamation project in the Jakarta Bay, and a 20-kilometer outer sea dike that functions as a toll road, reported The Jakarta Post.

The Public Works and Housing Ministry, which is in charge of the project, is preparing to send a proposal of the new concept to the State Palace, having signed an agreement with its Dutch and South Korean counterparts last month for the second phase of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD), now officially called the outer sea dike.

According to a ministry document dated May this year obtained by The Jakarta Post, the new concept, deliberated in around 150 meetings since 2016, will not entirely close the bay. The decision was made to answer the protests of fishermen and experts who fear that the giant artificial lake would turn into a “giant toilet” because it would collect untreated river water from Greater Jakarta.

The dike on the western side, estimated to cost Rp 48 trillion (US$3.4 billion), instead will have five large openings aimed at providing access for fisherfolk and transport from and to Thousand Islands regency, according to Andi Baso, a senior advisor for the ministry’s NCICD working unit.

“We hope that our design has accommodated the aspiration of existing stakeholders […],” Andi told the Post.

The sea wall project has triggered its fair share of controversy, with experts saying that the government should instead focus on preventing Jakarta from sinking further by stopping groundwater extractions.

After long discussions between water management experts from Indonesia and abroad, most experts agreed that groundwater extraction was the main cause of the sinking. Other factors, like the natural characteristic of Jakarta’s soil and weight from buildings, also play a role, they said. However, most of them concluded that the major cause was groundwater extraction.

A screen capture of the new concept of Jakarta’s giant sea wall, now called outer sea dike, from a government document dated May 2019.(JP/-)

No-regret measures?

The government previously referred to the first phase of the NCICD as “no-regret measures”, which mainly consisted of strengthening the existing northern coastal embankment and is estimated to cost Rp 9.4 trillion (US$675.286 million) until 2039.

In new documents, however, the government also included the western and eastern dikes and the reclamation project, called “land development”, in the no-regret measures, meaning that construction would continue whether or not the government and Jakarta administration succeeded in stopping the capital from sinking.

NCICD adviser Andi said the main rationale behind the urgency of building an outer sea dike is to provide Jakarta with more roads to ease traffic.

The new concept is called “adaptive” because if the rate of Jakarta’s land subsidence cannot be controlled by 2050, Andi said, five large openings in the sea dike would be closed — a measure that is estimated to cost an additional Rp 24.4 trillion.

To partially finance the Rp 154 trillion state-led project, Andi said about 2,000 ha of land development would be proposed to lure investors. The planned reclamation area would be nearly half the size of the controversial, 5,100-ha reclamation project for 17 artificial islets.

The new land has been designated for residential and commercial areas, industrial activities, tourist spots, as well as the conservation and revitalization of cultural heritage. Unlike the 17 planned artificial islets in the Jakarta Bay, it will be attached to Jakarta’s mainland, except for one artificial island that will be connected to the existing islet G, which was marketed as Pluit City by developer Agung Podomoro Land (APL).

“To have funding sources that do not burden the state budget, we proposed the land development,” he said.

He added that the team was open to feedback until February next year.

Jakarta Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) head Sri Mahendra Satria Wirawan said on Friday that the Jakarta administration had yet to receive a detailed plan about the second phase of the NCICD from the ministry.

Marthin Hadiwinata from the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association (KNTI), an association that has long opposed the project, said the development of an outer sea dike and artificial island would not help solve Jakarta’s land subsidence problem.

He said the fisherfolk did not need five large openings in the planned outer sea dike, but they did need better water quality in the Jakarta Bay. Despite the government’s claim that it had set up around 150 meetings, Marthin said officials never invited the KNTI to discuss the newest proposal.

Marthin said the central government and city administration should address the issue of untreated wastewater being dumped into the city’s 13 rivers to improve surface water quality, stop massive groundwater extraction and expand the distribution of drinking water.

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