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Indonesia advocacy teams to file class-action suit over floods

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Residents start to clean out their flood-impacted houses in Pondok Gede Permai housing area in Jati Asih in Bekasi, West Java on January 3. DHONI SETIAWAN/THE JAKARTA POST

Indonesia advocacy teams to file class-action suit over floods

Hundreds of Indonesian flood survivors have filed complaints through centres set up by local movements amid efforts to prepare class action against the government and regional administrations to push for compensation and better prevention measures following the severe flooding that impacted thousands of people in Greater Jakarta, Indonesia.

Public lawyers grouped under the 2020 Jakarta Flood Victims Advocacy Team, Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) and 2020 Bekasi Flood Victims Advocacy Team each set up their own complaint centres on January 6 for flood victims to lodge their complaints and report losses they had suffered.

The centres are part of the preparation for a class action suit the groups intend to file against their respective administrations over their alleged failure to anticipate the severe flooding.

The move came following massive flooding that struck Jakarta and its peripheral areas on the first day of this year that claimed at least 60 lives, displaced thousands of people and caused billions of rupiah in losses.

The flooding from the torrential rain that poured down on Greater Jakarta since New Year’s eve also caused material and other losses, with many people’s houses, vehicles and documents destroyed by the floods.

Alvon Kurnia Palma, one of the lawyers of the 2020 Jakarta Class Action Lawsuit Advocacy Team, who has been gathering evidence for the legal action, told the Jakarta Post that as of Thursday, they had received 600 reports via email and had input 243 reports into their document.

Of the 243 who reported to the advocacy team, 186 of them declared the value of losses they incurred due to the flooding. The declared losses totalled 43.32 billion rupiah ($3.16 million), with the smallest loss documented at 890,000 rupiah and the highest at 8.7 billion rupiah.

Alvon added that the highest number of reports came from West Jakarta, with up to 120 people representing 49 per cent of the total identified reports. East Jakarta came second with 52 people, or 21 per cent of the reports.

A total of 49 districts have filed reports to the advocacy team. The district sending the most reports was Cengkareng in West Jakarta, with 34 people filing reports, followed by Kebon Jeruk district with 31 people, and then Kembangan with 15 people and Pulogadung, East Jakarta with 12.

Alvon told the Post on Saturday they were compiling the reports into a lawsuit and planned to submit it to the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday.

Improved accessibility

LBH Jakarta spokesperson Ayu Eza Tiara said besides opening up a complaint centre at their headquarters on Jalan Pangeran Diponegoro in Menteng, Central Jakarta, they had also opened an online complaint centre for members of the public who were planning to take legal action against their respective administrations. She said the online channel was expected to improve accessibility for those who were planning to file lawsuits.

To file a lawsuit online, complainants can access LBH Jakarta’s website and fill out the online form with their personal information and attach photographs as evidence. For those who chose to take the legal route, Ayu said the legal aid would contact the complainants to discuss the appropriate steps.

“There are also cases when the complainants do not wish to continue their complaints. When that happens, we have to respect their decision,” she added.

About 397,171 flood survivors across 182 points in Greater Jakarta were affected by the massive flooding, according to data from LBH Jakarta. Many survivors blame their respective regional administrations for failing to anticipate the natural disaster.

However, LBH Jakarta could not immediately provide the number of people that had lodged complaints through the institute.

Another lawyer, Dadan Ramlan, is also pursuing a class action against the Bekasi administration. Calls were made to participate and by Saturday afternoon, Dadan said more than 30 reports had been submitted via email and messaging services.

“In terms of accumulated losses, we have yet to calculate the data as we are still waiting [for more reports], but based on the data already gathered, the biggest loss was 120 million rupiah,” said Dadan, adding that the smallest loss was valued at 20 million rupiah.

Dadan and the remaining 2020 Bekasi Flood Victims Advocacy Team will continue to compile the reports coming in. They are planning to submit the lawsuit after they have done a “thorough examination”.

Dadan explained that they were not in a rush as the lawsuit had to be solid.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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