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Asia Minute: Jakarta’s Water Pollution Complicates Asian Games

Gunawan Kartapranata
Wikimedia Commons

In less than a month, more than 11,000 athletes from 45 countries will go to Indonesia for the “Asian Games.” The country’s capital is going through a number of preparations — including some dealing with water pollution.

City officials in Jakarta have a big problem, and little time to solve it.

Nearly six months ago, Indonesian president Joko Widodo toured the area that will soon be home to the athletes’ village for next month’s Asian Games.

He was accompanied by the governor of Jakarta, and the two officials both detected an issue — a bad smell.

A really bad smell coming from the Sentiong River – which the city’s environment agency says is heavily polluted. It also doesn’t flow very well. Resulting in foul stagnant water baking under a tropical sun.

Technocrats set out to solve the problem — using what’s called “nano bubble waste technology” which breaks down organic material and neutralizes chemicals. That didn’t work, so city officials have moved on to a new strategy.

The Jakarta Post reports they’re tossing a big black nylon net over the river.

Credit Oyvind Holmsta / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The news website quotes an official with the Jakarta Water Resources Agency as saying they did it “so that the dark, polluted water will be hidden from the view of international athletes.” The big nylon net is also supposed to help with the smell, and the official said “to elevate the beauty of the river.”

Earlier this year, Indonesia’s National Development Planning Board said 96-percent of Jakarta’s river water is “severely polluted.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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