Jakarta residents sue the governor for floods

More than 200 residents of Jakarta have filed a lawsuit against the governor of the Indonesian capital as they seek to hold authorities accountable for their inaction during some of the deadliest floods in years, a plaintiff’s lawyer said.
At least 60 people died and almost 175,000 were displaced after some of the heaviest rains since records began that caused flash floods and landslides in Jakarta and nearby towns on December 31 and New Year’s Day.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a Jakarta district court on Monday by 243 residents against Governor Anies Baswedan, said authorities had not taken sufficient measures and sought 42.3 billion rupees ($ 3.1mn) in compensation.
The disaster caused at least $ 72mn in damages and monetary losses, according to the business lobby of the Indonesian Indigenous Entrepreneurs Association.
“People have been affected tremendously. They deserve compensation and a guarantee from the government that their concerns are being addressed, ”said Alvon Kurnia Palma of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Indonesia, which represents the plaintiffs.
“This is not the first time we have filed a lawsuit against the government for floods, but this time we have clear evidence that links government negligence with the damage caused. People are angry because nothing has been done, ”he said.
A spokesman for Governor Baswedan did not respond yesterday to requests for comment.
With one of the longest coasts in the world, Indonesia is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The rising sea level and the inability of existing infrastructure to cope with excess water during the monsoon season have caused regular flooding in Jakarta, which is home to more than 10 million people.
Despite previous flooding in Jakarta and the large amount of data pointing to excessive rains, authorities did not warn residents and responded slowly to the recent crisis, Palma said.
Part of the central government’s solution to the Jakarta floods is to move the capital to the island of Borneo by 2023.
Plans to improve flood defenses in Jakarta include the construction of two dams and works on the largest river in the city. President Joko Widodo has attributed the flood to delays in these projects.
Jakarta residents are not unhappy with the floods: Last year, a group of residents filed a lawsuit against the authorities for not stopping the worsening of air pollution.
The demands are a sign of the growing frustration of residents with government inaction, said Shobhakar Dhakal, a professor in the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.
“It is a way for people to pressure governments to act and to raise awareness about the problems,” he said.
Entire neighborhoods of the capital were submerged by the floods that forced tens of thousands to temporary shelters after the torrential rains that began on New Year’s Eve.

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