Ciliwung, Sungai

The name of a river in Jakarta, streaming to Mount Pangrango, West Java. This river flows through Puncak, Ciawi, and then turns north through Bogor, Depok, Jakarta and empties into the Gulf of Jakarta. From Jakarta, there are two tributaries in Manggarai: one of them goes through the middle of the city, along Gunung Sahari, and the other passes by the side of the city through Tanah Abang.    

This tributary that flows through the middle of Jakarta flows straight and then turns east when across Jl. Labu Hayam Wuruk and empties its water at Tangki River on the side of the road. Ciliwung water still flows north, along the east side of Medan Glodok and only turns east after passing the Pelangi Theater Buliding (Harco shops). A part of it empties into Besar River stretching from east to west, along Jl. Pancoran (opposite Glodok Building) passing by Jembatan Toko Tiga. The part of Besar River that flows along Jl. Pancoran no longer exists. It may be a closed sewer.

The part of Ciliwung River that flows straight from Harmoni to the north used to be a private river with toll payments for those who wanted to pass through it. This river was named Molenvliet and it was built by the Dutch by Kapitein der Chinezen (head of the Chinese in Betawi), Phoa Beng Gan known as Beng Gan. In 1648, Beng Gan received permission from the Company to build this river and collected toll payments from sampans that passed through. In 1654, it was taken over by the Company for 1.000 real.

Ciliwung River was the place where the Dutch first built their castles on the east bank of the estuary. Whereas on the west bank, the estuary had Culemborg Building and the Pabean office. Jl. Pakin also crossed this river. This river was also crossed by Kampung Muka Timur. The straight flow of Ciliwung River on the south side was called Besar River. On the east of the river, there was Weltervreden and on the east side in Prapatan, there was a private home that was once the office of Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX from Yogyakarta. The river estuary is also the Sunda Kelapa Port.

In the early days of Batavia, small boats sailed along Ciliwung to transport goods from warehouses close to Besar River to ships anchored at the port. In the middle of 1630, Ciliwung River experienced sedimentation. In order to deal with this, an 800m long ditch was constructed to the sea that was routinely dredged to ease the flow of water. The length of the ditch increased to 1,350 m (1827) from the mouth of the river due to accumulation of sand and mud and what more with the earthquake in January 1699.

The Ciliwung River tributary that empties into the ocean was used as the entrance into the castle for ships from the canals to Waterpoort. The construction of Molenvliet was also connected to this river as an energy source for various industries. Back then, Ciliwung River’s waters were used by the citizens for drinking water. In 1689, the river water was not yet polluted and could be used for drinking water. The earthquake, which occurred in January 1699, caused the increase in sedimentation level. Heaps of mud and sand accumulated in the ditch that was dredged to ease the flow of the water to and from the river.

In 1740, the river water was considered unhealthy because there were all kinds of rubbish and hospital wastewater discharged into the river. Many patients suffered from dysentery and cholera. The unhygienic drinking water caused high death rates among the Batavia citizens. On the other hand, most of the Chinese who drank tea rarely got sick because of the water. Aware of this, many Dutch people ate tealeaves to stay healthy. This attempt definitely did not succeed. In the end of the 18th century, Doctor c.p Thunberg still prescribed tealeaves compared to the boiled tea water. During that time, it was not known that the bacteria in water would die when boiled until boiling point. Until the 19th Century, the Dutch drank water from Ciliwung River. The river water was initially stored in a reservoir (waterplaats or aquada), which was built near Jacatra Fort, north of the city, then moved to the Molenvliet side near Medan Glodok. The reservoir was equipped with wooden showers that poured water from a height of about 10 feet (less than 3m), to the point that the people living in that area named it Pancuran.

Back then, when big enough boats sailed in Ciliwung to the middle of the city, around Jl. Gajah Mada and Harmoni, annual celebrations were often held called pek cun or peh cun. This was a celebration with decorated boats for the Chinese people in Jakarta. Today, the river water is murky once it reaches Jakarta because the area of its flow is a disposal area. As a result, the river is growing shallower and the flow slower.