Many of the ports throughout our Indonesian itinerary required a long day of bus travel to reach significant landmarks. Semarang was kind of one of them. There was a local shuttle bus that transferred us to a nearby mall.
Unfortunately just weeks before we began Indonesian run, excessive rains caused drastic flooding:
Thousands of people in Sawah Besar, Gayamsari district were forced to flee their homes as water from the overflowing Banjir Kanal Timur (East Flood Canal) River flooded the area.
“On Tuesday morning the floodwater was as high as an adult’s chest. Now it’s only knee high,” said Suparmi, a resident, on Tuesday.
Another local, Suryanta, was forced to move his cracker factory from Gayamsari to Genuk, some 10 kilometers away from its original location.
“I have stopped production for two weeks because of rain. Now [the factory] was swept away by flash flooding. So, I decided to move,” Suryanta said.
Floodwaters also inundated a low-cost apartment in Kaligawe, making it difficult for inhabitants to exit. The Bubakan region near the Old City area was also drowned in knee-high floodwater.
The flood also caused severe traffic jams in the Mangkang area since 3 a.m.
A similar scene could be seen at the access road to Semarang through Kaligawe on the eastern side, but it eventually returned to normal as the water receded.
Meanwhile, the landslide that hit Tinjomoyo subdistrict in Banyumanik district, Semarang, on Tuesday at 4 a.m. killed Tofa Adi Saputra, a 21-year-old student at Semarang Pandanaran University, when a cliff side fell onto his house.
The floods that have been besieging Central Java’s northern regions for the last three weeks have also caused severe road damage, paralyzing the Semarang-Pekalongan route. Normally, the journey between the two cities only takes two hours, but on Tuesday motorists were recording travel times of five hours.
Flash floods have battered other cities along Java’s northern coastal (Pantura) area, including those in Jepara, Kudus and Pati regencies, over the past few weeks. Floods also have affected the delivery of fuel in the three regencies.
Central Java Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Sarwa Pramana said that as of Tuesday, the floods had displaced 30,000 people in Pati, 8,000 in Kudus and 50 in Jepara. “We have enough food to take care of the evacuees for the next seven days,” Sarwa said.
He said that the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) had disbursed Rp 1 billion (US$81,947) to help some regencies or cities handle the disaster.
Previously, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said that he planned to summon all the province’s 35 regents and mayors to discuss spatial planning in anticipation of possible disasters in the future.
Poor sanitation and spatial planning, according to Ganjar, have been the main causes of floods and landslides across the province.
He said a joint consensus was needed to control spatial planning so as to prevent bigger, more costly disasters from occurring.
“This is not easy. We need more than three or four years to realize the plan,” Ganjar said on Monday.
He also said that bylaws on spatial planning actually could be made as basic guidelines for a region to prevent disasters.
Regions prone to landslides, for example, could be converted into conservation areas.
He added he had instructed all his staffers to review the disaster-prone regions in the province where residential housing was located so that evacuation would be easy to conduct in a time of disaster.
Relocation, Ganjar continued, would be difficult to do. “People usually are willing to be relocated only when a disaster has already occurred and claimed many lives.”
These photos were taken from the bus along the route between the port and nearby shopping center. As you can see, most of the area is still affected by the flooding.