This evening I’m going to a meeting at Goethe Haus for a discussion co-hosted by the Guardian newspaper and the Rujak Center for Urban Studies founded by Marco Kusumawijaya, who I’ve praised in the past. The evening’s discussion is entitled Jakarta @30Million: Where does the city go next?
Naturally, I’m assuming that the number refers not only to the future population of Jakarta, but also the satellite towns, inc. Jakarta, Depok, Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang, Serpong et al. The complete set, all built on a floodplain is known as something like Jabadebekoboggertangarpong which ten years ago I abbreviated to Japong.
Its current growth is unsustainable, and not merely because of the increasing consumer demands on diminishing resources. Building on a floodplain diminishes its capacity to absorb ever increasing rains due to climate change. Couple that with rising sea levels due to the collapse of the polar ice caps thanks to global warming. there is little point in building more roads.
The ownership of private vehicles may be considered to be the epitome of middle class aspirations, but providing for them decreases the quality of life for those who have to live with the air and noise pollutions and the stress of getting from A to B.
I’ve long put my faith in public transport, and written about it extensively as an urbanist with one foot in my past life in London, and the other here in Jakarta.
In 2004, Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London, announced a five year $10 billion transport scheme for my home city. I had a good look at it and figured that several of its proposals were suitable for Jakarta. So how is Jakarta getting on a dozen years later?
– Air-conditioned carriages
Done, although some have roof fans. However, the doors shut, and there is no more roof riding. That means that although rush hour commuters may continue to be crushed in, at least they are perspiration-free.
– New security measures for trains and stations
I was referring to vendors walking up and down the aisles and ticket touts at stations. I don’t know about local trains outside Jakarta, but vendors, buskers and dangdut singing beggars are now not to be seen on express and commuter trains because there is e-ticketing enforcing entrance to platforms. Another benefit is that ticket touting is an occupation of the past.
– Rail extensions to … Kelapa Gading? Soekarno-Hatta Airport?
Construction is now well under way for one, and possibly two, lines to the airport.
– Initiatives to encourage more walking
Governor Ahok has only recently ordered the renovation and creation of sidewalks.
– Priority given to pedestrians with enforceable crossings on major roads.
I’m not aware of any such developments.
– New street lighting (rather than illuminated advertisements and fairy lights)
Large advertising hoardings have been removed or have dropped of their own accord, as in the case of the one attached to a pedestrian bridge in Pasar Minggu.
There are new street lights in my neighbourhood which illuminate far beyond the street below. There’s one in front of Jakartass Towers which is bright enough to let me read a paperback book, and fractionally cuts down our electricity bill.
– A cycle network
There are very few dedicated cycle paths, and those that do exist are used to park cars and meals-on-wheels vendors.
– Extension of the 3-in-1 scheme throughout the day and to points north, south, east and west.
The original scheme has recently been replaced by an odd/even number plate system while City Hall dithers over ERP, (electronic road payment?). I’ve no idea whether either is effective in reducing the traffic chaos because I now commute out of, rather than into, town during the rush hours. And I generally get a seat on the train in both directions.
The word ‘consequences’ is rarely heard in Indonesia, and much of my writing effort has been to highlight the short-termism of government proposals and actions. For example, in 2011, a policy of leaving the first and last carriages in commuter trains empty was proposed as “part of a campaign to increase passenger safety in the event of a train collision.”
That didn’t happen: these carriages are now for women only … so in the event of a collision …