Cafés built on top of water channel in South Jakarta’s Kemang face demolition over flood risk

File photo of flood in Kemang in 2016
File photo of flood in Kemang in 2016

Authorities have turned their focus to a row of buildings in North Kemang, South Jakarta located atop a water channel, which they fear may have been the main cause for annual flooding in the area.

The row consists of five attached shophouses, with two of them functioning as coffee shops, on top of a water channel that connects to the Mampang River. According to an official from the Bangka sub-district, Firdaus Aulawy Rois, the buildings have been around since at least 2007. One of the coffee shops opened four years ago, with its dining area overlooking the not-so-clean waterway.

While they have been around for a while, authorities were only alerted about the shophouses after receiving reports from the public, as many of them raised concerns about how these structures may have triggered flooding in the area over the years. Firdaus said that meetings are being held on the issue, and that findings will be reported to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

“The reports said that [the buildings] have the potential to cause [flooding]. Of course [it will be discussed] in the meeting, other than on-site survey, [to find out] if they really caused the flooding,” Firdaus said yesterday.

On why the buildings have escaped the notice of zoning officials all these years, Mampang district head Djaharuddin said it’s difficult to monitor construction in the area, especially as the buildings are located inside a housing complex.

Previously, the South Jakarta City Government announced that they have begun mapping the buildings and houses that are standing on top of water channels, with the South Jakarta Mayor saying last Friday that they are disrupting water flowing into the river

Authorities have reportedly summoned the buildings’ owners, who will be given an option to demolish the building themselves.

Though Kemang is one of the capital’s hippest hang out spots, it’s prone to flooding whenever the annual rain season rolls around.

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