Thursday, January 12, 2017

Siranda-Kanaal, An Old City Drainage System

Part of Siranda-Kanaal, in front of Taman Budaya Raden Saleh (TBRS) along Jalan Sriwijaya, or Tegalwareng Weg in the old days. 
Semarang has been long time well known as the city which is oftenly suffered from flood. As a harbour city, built in the vast swampy land, Semarang during the rain season, water overflow from its major river, Kali Semarang then its threatened the city. The problems then solved by constructed Kanal Banjir Barat (Bandjir Kanaal West) and then Kanal Banjir Timur (Bandjir Kanaal Oost) in 1900. The purpose of the construction of this two flood prevention canal is to control the water flows from the major rivers in Semarang like, Kali Garang (the sources for Kali Semarang), Kali Babon and Kali Bajak. But in the 20th Century, the development of Semarang  made it needs more livingspace for its residences.  The city developed to the south, to the area that was mainly ricefields and also to its hilly part of the city known as Heuvelstad. From the its newly hilly terrain, known as Tjandi, the new residencies area in Semarang, its need a new canal, to prevent the waterflows from its hilly terrain for flooding the new residencies area below it and also because of the waterflows when its rains to the east is still not in good condition. Then the Gemeente (eng: city municipality) Semarang on 7 November 1930, approved the proposal to the construction of Siranda-Kanaal. 

Maps depicted the plan of Siranda-Kanaal construction in Locale Techniek journals in 1937. 
Siranda Kanaal, built in the foot hills of Siranda hills, and its lies about 3 Km until its meets with the headwater of Kanal Banjir Timur in Peterongan. To built is isnt easy, its have to dig a lot due to its position when its entered Genoek Weg and Tegalwareng Weg (currently Jalan Sriwijaya) located in the hilly terrain.  The canal also consist of a tunnnel with the length about 700 metres.  The construction began in July, 1931 and finished in November, 1931 right in the months where the wet season is about to reach its peak. The very irregular structure of the soil in places where layers between various rocks even wet sand layers were digged.  The lorries networks also set up for the purpose of the construction of Siranda Kanaal to transport all of the materials which were taken after its dug off from its place, or to send a new materials for the construction either. Also, its equipped by ground lift, with 1,2 tons cappacity to carried the materials. The land above the tunnels projected to became the new cemeteries for the Europeans, replacing the old ones in Kobong, but its never realized. 

The Siranda-Kanaal during its construction in 1931.
(source: Locale Techniek journals, 1937)
The Siranda-Kanaal construction cost approximately ƒ 260 000,-, about 20 billions rupiah in current values. Half of the cost to construct it, funded by the central government. Nowadays, the canal still in use, and even in the 2015 its revitalized by the city municipality by strengthen its foundation also doing some excavation to dug up the sedimentation. But also, in the canal section nearby Peterongan market, the first concrete construction market in Semarang, above the canal its built three-storey building, known as Pasar Inpres building. These building, covered almost 200 metres of its canal, and actually its against the law where its illegal to built a building above the open drainage/ sewer.  Also with the rapid development of Peterongan market, the inspection way along the canal were occupied by the sellers, and sadly these canals oftenly became huge garbage dump for them. People always complaining while the flood happens but in the other hand, the awareness of not to throw trash in the drainage, sewer, and river either were so low. 

1. Locale Techniek, 1937, Volume 006, Issue 003
2. Gedenkboek der Gemeente Semarang 1906-1931

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