Friday, September 12, 2008
  Who Runs Jakarta?

There's Governor Fuddy Bozo and a deputy governor whose picture can be seen on peeling stickers around town dating from FB's election a couple of years ago. (If you can honestly name his DG* without using a search engine, do let me know.)

Then there's a bunch of councillors. There are 75 of them and unlike FB and his DG, they were not elected directly but gained their sinecures based on the numbers of votes cast for the various political parties they belonged to. Thus they were not elected to represent the electorate but the interests of these political parties: Golkar (only 6 councillors but with the Speaker as an 'extra'), PKS (19, inc. a Deputy Speaker), P-Dem (16, inc. a Deputy Speaker), PDI-P (11, inc. a Deputy Speaker), PPP (7), PAN (6), PDS (4), PKB (4), PBR (2). There are also 10 non-elected councillors who supposedly represent the 'regions'. I cannot recall how they got their seats

I'm not actually sure what the role of the councillors is, although when elected they did mouth all the right platitudes about their priorities in combatting corruption, improving transport, dealing with garbage disposal and the economy. Theirs presumably.

Can anyone honestly say that things have got better in the nearly four years since they were elected? And who is your 'regional' councillor?

Whoever they are, they are expected to run this city.

Occasionally we get to hear about various initiatives. For example, we have been informed recently that the city administration is considering investing in the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api.

"We see the importance of investing in the company because we plan to integrate spatial planning around train stations, railway-road junctions, underpasses and overpasses," Governor Fauzi Bowo said Tuesday.

So, what's new?

The JP archives going back at least 5 years have articles extolling the virtues of an integrated transport system, and all we have is yet more talk.

'Plans', ''targets', 'considering', 'proposed': these are all fine words which mask prevarication.

In 2003, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showed that commuters from Jakarta's adjacent cities took one-and-a-half-hours on average to reach their workplace in Jakarta due to traffic congestion.

A JICA team under the leadership of Tomokazu Wachi prepared a study on a proposed integrated transportation plan for Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi (SITRAMP) aimed at producing to solve traffic problems in the city.

Wachi said, "Regional administrations in Greater Jakarta should increase their coordination to tackle traffic problems in the area. A clear identification of role-sharing is also needed between the central government and regional administrations at the provincial, municipal and regency levels."

Also in 2003, Lalu A. Damanhuri of Infrastructure Planning & Development Specialist Committee for Infrastructure Development Policy (KKPPI), said it best.

Building new roads, flyovers and underpasses in the absence of measures to limit transportation demand and improve traffic flow may simply result in more roads full of traffic jams.

Similarly, strengthening public transport will be ineffective in the absence of transportation demand management to discourage car and motorcycle use, and traffic engineering to give priority to public transportation vehicles.

Planning should encourage urban forms which minimize transport needs, encourage non-motorized transport (cycling, walking) and allow for efficient public transportation service.

An integrated infrastructure? Wow.

Unfortunately, all we seem to get are various limited initiatives. For example, Jakarta transportation agency head Muhammad Tauchid has suggested that working hours should be adjusted for the private sector in accordance with the working hours of civil servants.

"There will be a timing difference between the two that is expected to help reduce traffic congestions," he said.

Do private working hours really need regulating by an inefficient City Hall? Why not offer incentives (such as reduced fares in non-peak hours) to encourage companies to operate flexitime for their staff? And why not adjust the working hours of the bloated bureaucrats instead?

Another worrying problem is that the number of motorcycles in Jakarta has quadrupled by 300 percent (eh?) within the last four years - a worrying development if left unchecked, transportation officials and experts said Friday.

Sure is: bureaucrats who don't understand basic mathematics should certainly be checked.

Jakarta transportation agency head Muhammad Tauchid concurred, adding that the phenomenon is not only a contributing factor to the city’s worsening traffic, but also a hazard to other motorists.

He added that the city administration and transportation agency would be implementing several measures to anticipate the rapid increase of motorcycles in the city, which had reportedly grown by 3.5 million units this year alone.

One of the initiatives to be introduced early next year is a designated road lane for motorcycles.

“The decision is deemed a step forward in attempting to alleviate traffic congestion,” Tauchid said. “The other measure is to increase vehicle tax.”

That's what is needed - decisive thinking. Maybe.

SBY has also had a few ideas about making Jakarta a better place for all. He is a commuter from his weekend spread on the road to Bogor to his presidential pad in Central Jakarta and gets to see, but not experience, the regular gridlock. (Traffic is held up so he can pass witrh his outriders and entourage.)

So what are we to make of Presidential Decree No.54/2008 which actually regulates spatial planning on Jabodetabekpunjur (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Puncak and Cianjur), focusing on issues such as drainage, waste water, transport, and garbage disposal. Has it really taken more than five years to gestate?

Of course, it could all mean loads more meetings with officials from various bureaucracies, probably a foreign trip or two to see how others do integrate their shopping with 'official business', but that is cynical conjecture.

Integrated flood management is covered by Article 21 of the decree (which) stipulates that drainage and flood control systems must integrate river management with the current regional drainage system, in addition to prioritizing forest rehabilitation and revitalization of reservoirs and flood control dams.

Gadis Sri Haryani, director of the water resources department at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), suggested that communities in upstream areas should be educated about ecofriendly sources of income, such as ecotourist whitewater rafting.

Article 15 of the new decree sets out laws for the development of mass transit systems to connect Jakarta and surrounding areas.

It also stipulates that the administrations should improve the railway network in certain areas to serve commuters better.

Bambang Susantono of the Indonesian Transportation Society said the decree "would allow the monorail, mass rapid transit (MRT) system and busway networks to expand into surrounding cities".

Until now, Jakarta administration has only been able to develop transportation systems within its administrative territory, even though each day the capital sees millions of commuters from neighboring cities.

Deputy Governor Prijanto* hadn't heard about the issuance of the decree, but he did say that the new regulations would unite development in Jakarta and its greater areas.

"For me, it's a good sign to start working together with adjacent regions, especially in spatial planning."



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