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Abrasion of Padang City, How are the Government’s Handling Efforts?

Sunny morning, strong sea breeze in mid-2022. The waves also hit the breakwaters and sea water entered the streets.

“It’s called aloro, ” said Asri, a fisherman from Air Manis Beach, Padang City, West Sumatra. We were sitting in a little hut that had a bit of a wind barrier.

While straightening his black hat, this 52-year-old man said that a galoro is a big wave that comes without strong winds. Some people mentioned tidal waves.

The hut was getting closer to the waves. Not far from there is Edi’s house, Asri’s friend. The floor of Edi’s room was broken because every night the waves crash against the walls of his room.

Fishing boats must be lifted to a higher surface otherwise the waves can carry them out to sea. Even though there used to be a hut standing at a point 20 meters from the mainland where we sat. At that point, now it has become stacked stones extending towards the sea.

That week the wind was strong, the weather was erratic, only the fishermen were determined to go fishing.

Fishermen at Air Manis Beach can read the weather. He pointed at the end of the sea. The horizon at that time had a green line. “That’s a strong wind. Soon the wind will come to the mainland,” he said.

It didn’t take long for the wind to come ashore and make the bigger waves fall ashore. The wind, Asri said, would bring rain clouds ashore. Later, the cloud will bring rain and the rain is hit by lightning. Next day will be sunny.

Even though he can read the weather, natural conditions, he admits, are increasingly difficult to predict. Abrasion takes up space, making it difficult for fishing boats to dock. Looking for fish is also farther away.

What is the government ‘s plan ?

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) together with the Padang City Government held a discussion on the design of Padang coastal abrasion infrastructure based on disaster mitigation last Monday, February 6.

There are two types of disasters that have the potential to occur in West Sumatra, namely tsunamis that are rapid on set and abrasion that are slow on set .

Abdul Muhari, Acting Head of the BNPB Disaster Data, Information and Communication Center said that in principle each beach has its own circulation.

“During the west and east monsoons, for example, the dominant waves carry sand sediments in a direction perpendicular to the coast. Whereas during the transitional season, the waves form a longshore current which will carry sediment along the coast, both in the north-south direction, and vice versa,” he said.

Along the Padang coast, it turns out that it has different abrasion characteristics. For example, around the MerpatiPeace Monument to Muaro, the dominant abrasion characteristics are in a direction perpendicular to the coast. In contrast to the northern area around the Minangkabau International Airport (BIM), waves and currents still predominantly move parallel to the coast.

This current pattern or characteristic can also change over time and the addition of coastal protection structures.

“We have to map these principles and characteristics one by one to determine what kind of coast guard is to be effective in preventing abrasion,” he said.

The presence of offshore infrastructure will encourage sediment to build up behind it. Furthermore, this sediment can be used to plant vegetation such as mangroves, cypress shrimp and other vegetation which of course is useful in resisting abrasion and reducing the risk of a tsunami.

“Physical development must also be parallel with vegetation-based mitigation efforts,” he said.

Meanwhile, said Abdul, one option for infrastructure to mitigate abrasion at Padang Beach is to build an offshore breakwater   parallel to the coast, 50-100 meters in the sea from the shoreline.

“Physical development is for the short term of 50-70 years, because the physical infrastructure is getting less and less strong. While tsunamis have a return period of 50 to hundreds of years.”

As for vegetation, he said, the longer it is planted the stronger it will withstand the waves.

“Naturally, with an offshore breakwater that is parallel to the beach, a button or sand sediment will be formed which is carried by the current perpendicular to the beach,” he said.

Medi Iswandi, Head of West Sumatra Bappeda citing data from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Padang lost 21-49 meters per year along 24.7 of the 74 km coastline from 2009 to 2018.

In addition, there is a sea level rise of 0.37 cm per year. The Padang coastline is also retreating six meters per year inland.

“If you build the infrastructure to protect Padang Beach, it will save 25% of West Sumatra’s economy,” said Medi.

During the discussion, Hendri Septa, Mayor of Padang, instead pushed for a program from the PUPR Ministry regarding the ‘long-term design’ to anticipate abrasion along Padang Beach. He said, there are several points of Padang Beach which do not yet have grip stones to withstand abrasion, one of which is Koto Tangah.

“We ask the special central government for the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing to jointly protect the condition of the city of Padang. Moreover, seeing many historic buildings around the coast,” he said in a release from the Padang City Government.

Jarot WIdyoko, Director General of Water Resources at the Ministry of Public Works and People’s Works (Dirjen SDA PUPR) said that in 2023 they will prioritize securing the beach around the Al Hakim Mosque.

The location is a priority, he said, because data for July 2022 experienced extreme waves which caused the waves to rise to land by around 40 meters.


Deddy Arsya, a historian from the Sjech M Djamil Djambek Bukittinggi State Islamic University, said that he had not found any records of abrasion in colonial newspapers.

“But if in people’s memories there appears to be an issue of abrasion. But it looks like it was after colonialism.”

The story goes that around Padang beach there used to be Chinese shops and graves. Everything is subject to abrasion. The traces, sometimes still visible when the tide is receding. It is located around the Padang Cultural Park.

Regarding other coastal areas, Dedi did not find them in history. “Maybe because the seafront area was not inhabited long ago. Settlements are always directed inland. It’s not a human problem with abrasion. That is a problem because human settlements are increasingly pressing towards the sea,” he said.

Treatment of abrasion with breakwaters was only done later in the New Order era. “Before that, it had never been read that there were similar efforts and policies,” he said.

The Netherlands, he said, were more busy managing land water, such as making sewers, artificial rivers, drainage and so on.

Randi Reimena, a West Sumatra history writer, said there were several records of handling abrasion by the Indonesian Government, one of which was in Rusli Amran’s Buku Padang Your History Now.

The alumni of the master of history at Andalas University said that in Rusli Amran’s writings he described how in 1907 a hill and a small house and bench for relaxing were destroyed by the crashing waves. The location is at the end of Jalan Nipah, which reportedly once had Dutch cannons but was dismantled in 1988.

Apart from Rusli, Randi also said that Ganto Magazine was published in 1973. The article was entitled ” The Erosion Rate of Padang Beach Has Been Stopped” .

Randi said, in the article it was reported, the waves of the Indian Ocean caused abrasion reaching 2.2 meters per year.

“Actually, in 1964, the Government of West Sumatra built an emergency dam to hold back the waves. Development from Muara Batang Arau to Muara Flood Canal. It was built until 1969. The dam eventually cracked and eroded,” he said.

The West Sumatra government did not give up, they built it again with a budget of Rp. 206 million at that time. They made the embankment grip system by piling chunks of mountain rock and concrete cubes. This curved grip rock juts into the sea up to 25 meters. “It was built in 1973,” he said.

In 2021, the government will again arrange grip stones in several parts of the coast of Padang City. One of them is near the Al-hakim White Mosque.

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