Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The visit to East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Saturday to oversee the progress of Raknamo reservoirs development indicated the President was serious about resolving the water problem in the province.
Noting that water is a basic human need and should be readily available, the president visited the province to see how his government can meet the local communities need for clean water.
The water crisis in NTT, one of the Indonesias poorest provinces, occurs every year in the dry season and forces local communities to consume unhygienic water because residents are unable to afford local tap water at exorbitant prices.
Further, water shortages in the province can takes a heavy toll on rice cultivation and irrigation, leading to harvest failures.
But now President Jokowis government has taken the necessary steps to overcome the situation being faced by a large part of the provinces population every dry season.
On Saturday morning, the people around Raknamo reservoir at Manusak village in Kupang district were enthusiastic in greeting President Jokowi.
“We are all happy to wait for the arrival of President Jokowi because it is the first time the head of state visits our village,” remarked Immanuel Kiu, one of the villagers.
With a great interest in meeting Jokowi, Immanuel acknowledged that the he had been waiting for the president at the Manusak village hall since 6:00 Saturday morning, local time.
He expressed is hope that the presence of President Jokowi in Manusak village will show the serious attention of the government to develop the areas in eastern Indonesia, particularly in East Nusa Tenggara.
“The severe water shortage in NTT every year threatens the livelihood of thousands, with many forced to use water from unhygienic sources,” Immanuel remarked.
But he added that the presence of President Jokowi to oversee the progress of the Raknamo reservoir project could help the community, in terms of providing a solution to water problems in the province.
At many villages in the province, people have to walk many kilometers to draw water.
The lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, and health facilities has caused child malnutrition and child mortality is higher than that in the rest of Indonesia.
In the meantime, East Nusa Tenggara Public Works Department Chief Andre Koreh confirmed that President Jokowi oversaw the development of Raknamo reservoir.
“Yes, the construction of Raknamo reservoir is 20 percent complete, and the president wanted to oversee it during his working visit to East Nusa Tenggara from Friday until Saturday,” Andre remarked.
He noted that 81 percent of the funds from the state budget in 2015 have been used for the construction of Raknamo reservoir, in an area of 147 hectares.
On completion, the reservoir is expected to store 14.09 million cubic meters of water during the rainy season, which will be used to meet the needs of the residents of Kupang district during the dry season.
“The water from this reservoir can also be used to irrigate rice fields and to generate electricity,” Andre pointed out.
He stated that President Jokowi had visited Raknamo village on December 20, 2014, to officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of the reservoir project, worth Rp732 billion.
At the time, President Jokowi said Raknamo reservoir in NTT province was the first of 49 dams in Indonesia that the government would build in the next five years.
“We plan to build 49 reservoirs in five year, and Raknamo is the first to be constructed in East Nusa Tenggara because Governor Frans Lebu Raya calls me almost every day to discuss the matter,” President Jokowi said.
The Raknamo reservoir, some 35 kilometers east of Kupang city, is to supply standard water to urban areas and to irrigate around 841 hectares of farm lands in the district of Kupang.
It will also be expected to prevent flooding in downstream areas and to feed small hydro power plants with a planned capacity of 0.216 megawatts per unit to be built there.
State-owned construction company PT Waskita Karya, which has been awarded the project, said the dam would be able to supply 100 liters of water per second.
“We are optimistic that the multipurpose dam would have a positive impact on development in other sectors,” head of the Civil Division of the publicly traded company Ridwan Darma said.
The dam, which will occupy 147.3 hectares of land, is located 104 meters above sea level on the Noel Puames river.
Part of the Raknamo area is occupied by people from East Timor who chose to maintain Indonesian citizenship after the 1999 referendum that gave birth to the East Timor (Timor Leste) state.
In the meantime, NTT public works department spokesman Andre Koreh remarked in Kupang on Thursday that the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing has completed the design of Lambo reservoir in the province.
“The construction of Lambo reservoir is part of the plan to build seven reservoirs in several areas of East Nusa Tenggara,” Andre Koreh remarked.
He noted that the seven reservoirs to be built in East Nusa Tenggara province are part of the plans of the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry.
The seven reservoirs are Lambo reservoir in Nagekeo district, Kolhua in Kupang city, Raknamo and Manikin in Kupang district, Rotiklot in Belu district, Temef in Timor Tengah Selatan (TTS) district, and Napunggete in Sikka district.
“The construction of the seven reservoirs are already included in the Ministry of Public Works plan, as East Nusa Tenggara is in dire need of reservoirs to cope with the water shortage faced by humans, animals, and plants,” Andre remarked.
According to Andre, the provincial government has planned the construction of Rotiklot reservoir this year and will then be followed up with the construction of Lambo and Temef reservoirs in 2017.