Jakarta. Jakarta residents who were badly affected by the New Year's Day floods and landslides that killed at least 67 people in the Jakarta metropolitan area submitted a class action against Governor Anies Baswedan to the South Jakarta District Court on Monday.
The class action, launched by an advocacy group called the Jakarta Flood Victims Advocacy Team, demands compensation for losses experienced during the disaster and its aftermath.
The lawsuit involved 243 flood victims represented by five residents and a group of lawyers.
More than 670 flood victims had applied to join the class action. After being verified, 243 of them went ahead with the lawsuit. Each of the five representatives represented a district of Jakarta.
The class action claims losses of up to Rp 42.3 billion ($3.1 million) from the floods and landslides, which the victims felt could have been handled better by the city administration.
A spokesman for the advocacy team, Azas Tigor Nainggolan, said Anies as governor had failed at least on two counts in his handling of the disaster.
The first was his inability to provide an early warning system to alarm the city's residents of potential floods.
"The system had worked in previous years. Sub-district officials usually get the information quite early, which they then passed on to residents using mosques loudspeakers," Azas said at the district court.
The second was the ineffective emergency response carried out by the provincial government. According to the advocacy team, help came very late to several areas heavily affected by the flood in the capital, or never came at all.
"These two things are the governor's responsibilities," Azas said.
He said Anies could have opted to continue the systems set up by previous governors to handle floods in Jakarta and his failure to do show was proof of his incompetence.
One of the flood victims who were there at the district court, Budi Iskandar, said he had experienced more losses from the flood this year than at any other time.
"Almost every year, Kelapa Gading [the area in North Jakarta where he lives] is flooded, but this year was the worst," Budi said.
Budi's car had to be written off because of the flood, his home was badly damaged and his shop had also suffered.
"Fabrics for my convection business were destroyed in the flood. In total, I lost around Rp 200 million to Rp 300 million," Budi said.
Deadly floods and landslides hit many areas of the capital on New Year's Day after almost a day of non-stop torrential rains. Several spots in the Jakarta metropolitan area were completely paralyzed.
Aside from the 67 people killed, tens of thousands were displaced from their homes and forced to live in evacuation shelters.
Several of the victims complained that unlike in previous years, they never received any early warnings about the floods.
Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara has admitted the lack of warning might have contributed to the high number of victims.