Vehicles wade through flooded street in Thamrin, Jakarta, Feb. 9, 2015. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

Basuki Blames Electrical Outage for Central Jakarta Flooding


FEBRUARY 10, 2015

Vehicles wade through flooded street in Thamrin, Jakarta, Feb. 9, 2015. (Antara Photo/Zabur Karuru)

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has taken aim at state utility firm Perusahaan Listrik Negera, saying its decision to cut power during the peak of heavy rain on Monday led to flooding in the capital's center.

Greater Jakarta was buffeted by nearly 24 hours of heavy rain between Sunday and Monday evening, causing flash flooding that inundated at least 2,600 homes across the city and led to massive traffic gridlock.

As a precautionary measure, Perusahaan Listrik Negera (PLN) shut down its power grid in several areas of North, West and Central Jakarta.

But the governor has blasted the company's decision to cut power in the Pluit area, which meant the 12 pumps at Pluit Dam were shut down.

"Pluit Dam couldn't hold the water. You know why? PLN cut off the electricity, that's why the pumps didn't work," he said on Monday night.

"As they didn't work and rain continued to pour, water levels rose."

Access to City Hall in Central Jakarta was cut off on Monday, while two of the capital’s main roads — Sudirman and Thamrin — were submerged in up to 40 centimeters of rainwater.

Jakarta PLN admitted the company cut electricity to the area, but has rejected the governor's claim it was directly responsible for high water levels at the dam.

"It was not PLN's fault ... We would only do so if we see the condition becomes critical and dangerous for both the public and installation," company spokesperson Kusdianto said.

PLN said power was shut off at 11:38 a.m., but the pump was operating again by 1:15 p.m.

"For all I know, the blackout in the morning was not PLN's fault. Maybe the water did reach a high level or there might be uncontrollable circumstances," Kusdianto said.

Basuki, who said early yesterday that flooding in the city center should have been impossible because waterways in Pluit were working better than ever, said he was puzzled by the PLN decision.

"They said they didn't want anyone to be electrocuted, but it wasn't even flooding there," he said.

After hearing about the outage Basuki said he ordered the Jakarta Water Agency to turn a generator on at the dam, but it could only support two pumps.

"Pluit Dam is the key. I'll ask the police and army to guard it if needed."

The governor shared his frustration with President Joko Widodo on Tuesday morning during a visit to the State Palace.

"I asked the president to help me telling PLN that there must always be electricity available for pumps in North Jakarta," he said to news website

Large areas of Jakarta are still without power on Tuesday. A total of 566 electrical relays operated by PLN in Greater Jakarta and Tangerang are still switched off due to public safety concerns.