Surakarta to focus on water
tourism in 2013

The Surakarta municipal administration in Central Java has pledged to focus on the development of water tourism facilities in 2013 by turning the three rivers passing through its region into tourist attractions.

The three rivers are the renowned Bengawan Solo River, the Pepe River that passes through downtown Surakarta and the Sonto River.

“We will start by conducting mass voluntary work [to clean up the rivers] by the beginning of next year,” Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo said on Friday.

The work, according to Hadi, will be focused more on the Pepe River. The river, which passes through the northern part of the city, has been encountering problems with domestic waste. “This will become our pilot project,” Hadi said.

Similarly, the Sonto River will be developed into a venue for cultural festivals after being dredged to get rid of the thick sediment mainly caused by domestic waste.

In 2011, the river hosted the Kali (River) Sonto Festival, which also initiated cleansing activities as a way of building awareness on the importance of keeping the river clean.

With regard to Bengawan Solo, the city administration is currently working on relocating people from the banks of the river, as 11 families are still residing there.

The administration has also started planting trees along the banks of the river as part of realizing an urban forest program focused in the Jebres area. A playground has also been built around the urban forest for children and people to play.

Another water tourism program considered by the city is the restoration of the ditch around the Benteng Vastenburg fortress, a Dutch colonial legacy.

The fortress, which was built in 1745 and has a shape of a square, was surrounded by a ditch of 4 meters deep and 2 meters wide as part of the drainage and defense systems. However, for years the ditch has not been functioning well.

“If the ditch is reoperated, then it can also function as a water catchment that will prevent rainwater from flooding the street during the rainy season while at the same time adding attractions for tourists,” said the City Spatial Planning Agency head Ahyani.

Three drainage pipes will also be built in 2013 to connect the ditches in some streets, including Jl. Mayor Kusmanto, Jl. Kapten Mulyadi, Jl. Mayor Sunaryo and Jl. Sudirman, to the ditch around the fortress. Ahyani said coordination with the Indonesian Military, which had authority of the fortress, would be carried out before taking forward the program.

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