Monday, 9 April 2012

Rain in Jakarta

The rainy season has been very quiet this year, I don't think you could say it was a repeat of the rainy season that happened the year I came. That was a bad year and I think that lessons were learnt, flood defences were built in places and some rivers dredged. However, the rivers soon clog up again, more flood plain gets lost to concrete and still the rainy season comes.
Since January, the rains here have been both infrequent and light compared to other years and with riding across the city every day I see lots of weather. Jakarta has micro climates so it can be raining in one street and bone dry in another. The past couple of weeks, the frequency of the rain has increased a little and so I have been wearing my wet weather clothing most nights home. 
Last week due to high levels of rain in Bogor and surrounding hills and mountains the rivers in Jakarta finally burst and floods ensued. From floods spawn traffic chaos and from chaos comes being late. 
So on Wednesday I had to teach in my inschool and that means going across Dann Mogot and following a major river as it makes its final journey to the sea. The rain on the Tuesday had been heavy most of the afternoon into the early evening, flooding the city in places, causing my roof to leak in my house and the yard to flood out back. 
Getting to the school in the morning was a mission. From Puri we got close to Green Garden only to discover a bus had broken down so we turned and headed to Green Garden another way, when we almost got to the railway tracks, we were diverted again as the area was under 70cm of water, so we headed to Dann Mogot but closer to the city. This was after 2 hours of moving slowly. From there we headed down into Jelembar and the floods were still visible but not severe. The river around Jelembar is the same height as the road in places. Even after class at 12.30 there were still major floods and I would assume they disappeared later that day. One of my teachers houses was flooded and there up to 1 metre of water there so she had to clean that up.
Luckily for me, my journey home takes me through a more hilly part of the city towards the south so the water is always running away and whilst there was some flooding around Senayan, Permata Hijau that was pretty much it. Interestingly I am always asked why I ride in torrential rain that hurts when you are riding, the simple answer is that the traffic is lighter and slower and there are not so many bikes out so the roads are just as dangerous but dangerous because of the water not because of the traffic.
Dangerous the roads are thats for sure. Riding across the city I have to ride through some major traffic areas and what is surprising is the lack of care taken on repairing the roads especially at Polda by Semanggi where there are more patches on the road than over the eyes of a boat load of pirates. Just after the railway crossing at near Permata Hijau heading toward Senayan, the pot holes that were filled soon unfilled themselves after rain.
The problem is I think is this. If you fill a hole with more tarmac and don't compress it down lots then the air trapped slowly leaks out and the tarmac sinks, add some rain into the mix then the whole exercise becomes a waste of time, however this being Jakarta, it is a waste of time, given that this activity of filling the pot holes is given to lowest charging, least qualified work force who actually fill in pot holes on occasion in the rain!
I will add that the way roads get repaired here is completely different than in England. Here Tarmac is poured on top of tarmac therefore for a month or 2 making the road surface smoother, but if there was serious holes or road defects before resurfacing then these things shows up after 3 or 4 months. And of course any road markings that were there are removed and not replaced.
In England a road gets shaved, (literally, the top layer is removed) all the defects are repaired and then the road is resurfaced and this way the road lasts a whole lot longer. I cannot recall seeing broken plates and sauces used to fill pot holes, tires to replace manhole covers and branches of trees to warn drivers of holes in England. Which is good, it is just a same that has to happen here.
On Good Friday riding back from Starbucks at Tebet, I nearly died due to overtaking a bus who was pulling out, pumping out jet black death and in front of me was huge hole in the road which must have been formed from the rain, how I missed falling into it I will never know, but it took me a while to calm down and stop shaking. That was the closest call yet I think. 
Riding slowly again
I cant wait  now for the rain to stop and whilst then I am sure to bemoan the heat and the sunburn and the haze I am sure to feel a little safer on my bike, a lot dryer and a little more dusty.
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