Joko Wants Giant Sea Wall Construction to Begin This Year

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo on Monday said he wanted construction of a giant sea wall project in Jakarta Bay to begin as soon as possible, as part of efforts to protect the capital against tidal flooding.

The Public Works Ministry, on the other hand, has said that it is not planning to begin construction until 2016.

“That is too long. If possible it should be this month, the start should not be delayed for too long. If the computations are completed, the decision should be taken,” the governor said.

He said that at present, the technical aspects of the construction, as well as the economic and environmental impacts, were still being studied.

“The plan for the construction is still being developed, but as soon as possible I will take a decision,” Joko said.

He said he was optimistic that the building of the sea wall could start soon because the project was fully funded through the city budget. He added that the private sector was welcome to invest if interested.

“The funding concerns more than Rp 100 trillion [$10.4 billion], but an investment arrangement could also be used,” he said. “There are already many in the private sector who have raised their hands. But we have not yet computed everything and since this concerns a sum that is not only large, but very large, we will have to decide on the funding arrangement.”

Joko declined to identify those private investors already airing interest in putting money into the project, but unconfirmed speculation has included names such as Setdco Universal Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The giant sea wall, Joko said, was expected to help protect the city against floods resulting from tidal surges.

“Considering the natural conditions caused by global warming, the tide is rising by the year, because melting ice will increase the tide levels and willing or not, that sea wall needs to be built," the governor said. "And as soon as possible, because we do not want to be underwater.”

He added that the sea wall was not built to cope with just one or two decades of flood threats, but rather would be erected to last up to 100 years. The various existing plans envision a sea wall between 35 and 60 kilometers long, beginning at Teluk Naga in Tangerang and ending at Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta.

The area between the wall and the shore could also be used as a reservoir from which sea water could be processed into potable water, Joko said.

Officials have said that a complete plan for the wall will still require up to two years to finalize.