Putri Prameshwari & Ismira Lutfia
After two major earthquakes last year left hundreds dead and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure destroyed, the government on Wednesday said it would begin using a new method to determine the ability of an area to withstand seismic tremors.
Edi Prihantoro, an analyst at the State Ministry for Research and Technology, said a system called Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis would be carried out at sites being eyed for building construction.
Using the PSHA, the soil conditions on a construction site would be evaluated, and the data sent to the Ministry of Public Works, which would then specify a set of guidelines for the construction.
The PSHA, Edi said, would help minimize the number of casualties and damage to property caused by earthquakes. An earthquake by itself doesn’t kill people, but brings down poorly constructed buildings.
And because there is no way of predicting when an earthquake will strike, ensuring a structure’s stability is the next best thing, he added.
“With the PSHA, we can learn, for example, whether the soil at a certain area is stable enough to carry the weight of a building,” Edi said.
Josia Irwan Rastandi, chairman of the structural reliability testing division at University of Indonesia’s School of Engineering, said buildings in here generally have little resistance to seismic forces because they were not up to strict standards for construction.
“Jakarta is the only city where infrastructure is tested by a building construction supervisory team [TPKB],” he said.
Edi said the government was preparing to use the PSHA in Java and Sumatra, with Papua and Sulawesi to follow.
“We’re handing [the system] over to local administrations so they can apply it themselves,” he said.
Edi said the Research and Technology Ministry also has plans to boost disaster awareness among students this year by publishing a guidebook that would be distributed to all school levels across the country.
“We’ve also been doing tsunami drills with the local administrations,” Edi said.
Nirwono Joga, an urban planning expert from the civil engineering department of the Trisakti University, said buildings must be strong enough to resist at least a magnitude-8 earthquake.
“Poorly constructed buildings are the main cause for casualties in an earthquake,” Nirwana said.