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Race to save Jakarta from the sea

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 01:49

A giant sea wall is under construction around Jakarta as the city sinks further and further below sea level. Paul Chapman reports.

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Indonesia's capital city is sinking. Jakarta sits on a swampy plain and has sunk four metres in the past three decades. Water drained through wells to supply the city is causing the ground on which it lies to subside. Today 40 per cent of the city is below sea level. The government launched a 263 million dollar scheme in October to build a giant sea wall around the city. The hope is that the wall will stop the sea water overwhelming the city as it sinks further still. The World Bank which oversees a huge flood mitigation project in Jakarta which it largely funds says the problems are acute. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOOK CHUAN ENG, WORLD BANK'S SENIOR WATER AND SANITATION EXPERT, SAYING: "If you compare this against the other major cities in this region - Manila, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City - they also suffer from land subsidence but the rates that we have seen in Jakarta is actually above those other cities." Jakarta's new sea wall will include a 24-kilometre outer wall. It'll have 17 artificial islands up to eight kilometres off shore Officials with the Dutch engineering and consulting firm brought in to help say it's a massive undertaking. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VICTOR COENEN, CHIEF REPRESENTATIVE OF DUTCH CONSULTING FIRM WITTEVEN + BOS, SAYING: "It will be built in 16 to 20 metres of deep water and basically we're going to build a totally new city on top of that." The sea wall project is a race against time and not just for Jakarta. Southeast Asia is suffering from increasing numbers of severe floods and storms. Between 1960 and 1969 there were fewer than 20 such incidents. Between 2000 and 2008 there were almost six times as many.

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Race to save Jakarta from the sea

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 01:49