Gov. Anies doubles down on curtaining over smelly canal, says ‘solution’ may be expanded to others if successful

Black nylon mesh covering up Jakarta’s Sentiong Canal in Kemayoran. Photo: Twitter/@radiosushifm
Black nylon mesh covering up Jakarta’s Sentiong Canal in Kemayoran. Photo: Twitter/@radiosushifm

The Jakarta Government was on the receiving end of wide-ranging criticism last week after it became clear that their main plan for “fixing” the terrible sight and smells of the Sentiong Canal  — located right next to the government-built accommodations for athletes coming to Jakarta for next month’s Asian Games — was to simply cover up the canal with a 689-meter curtain of black nylon mesh.

Not only was this “solution” lambasted for being almost the literal definition of “sweeping the problem under the rug”, many doubted whether the porous mesh covering would be able to fulfill its secondary goal of keeping the canal’s foul odors from leaking out into the surrounding area and disturbing the visiting athletes staying in Kemayoran’s Wisma Atlet (Athlete’s Village).

But rather than take the criticism, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has doubled down on his administration’s solution and said that he would expand the smell-reducing river covers to other waterways in the capital, should they prove effective.

“We’ll see their effectiveness, if this one proves successful, we will do it in other places as well, we don’t want to experiment in all places at once,” Anies said while inspecting the canal, which is better known as the Kali Item (Black Canal), according to Liputan 6.

Anies said that officials would be closely monitoring the river over the next month to see how effective the curtains are at taming the noxious canal’s odors.

He also reiterated his previous defense for not simply starting work dredging the river months earlier, saying that the source of the bad smells was actually the waste being poured into the river from numerous sources further upstream, which dredging couldn’t solve.

“It’s not dredging that’s the problem, but because there are multiple sources of pollutants, not just one but many, it’s a lot of water sources from lots of households and home industries,” the governor said.

Previously, officials said they were also using other methods to eliminate the canal’s bad smell, including “nano bubble” technology from Singapore as well as a water waste filter machine they said they were going to use on the canal a couple of months ago (although that plan seems to have fallen through or been ineffective).

Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno told the media that the decision to put up the mesh was made by himself and Governor Anies Baswedan after they received requests to fix Kali Item problem by the Asian Games’ organizers.

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