Un­friend­ing pri­vate ve­hi­cles

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE -

The Jakarta ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­cided to back off. Af­ter months of cam­paign­ing for its plan to ban mo­tor­cy­cles on the city’s main roads of Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Tham­rin, it has bowed to pres­sures to abort the pro­gram. The Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Board (Wantim­pres) ad­vised the ad­min­is­tra­tion to call off the plan as mul­ti­ple in­fra­struc­ture projects have re­sulted in limited pub­lic trans­porta­tion al­ter­na­tives in the area.

Tran­s­jakarta and reg­u­lar buses, which are also caught in chronic con­ges­tion caused by the clo­sure of sev­eral road lanes, are con­sid­ered not ready to take on ad­di­tional pas­sen­gers in the event the mo­tor­cy­clists were banned from us­ing the roads.

The can­ce­la­tion, how­ever, should not stop the ad­min­is­tra­tion from find­ing a so­lu­tion to the city’s grid­lock. It is clear the city has too many mo­tor­cy­cles and cars than it can han­dle. The mil­lions of ve­hi­cles cause headaches while on and off the streets.

The Jakarta Trans­porta­tion Agency recorded that 10,080 ve­hi­cles were caught en­croach­ing side­walks in Au­gust when it com­menced Or­derly Side­walk Month. The agency and po­lice tick­eted and towed ve­hi­cles de­spite rants from their own­ers.

Qlue, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s app for pub­lic com­plaints, recorded last month that two main prob­lems on side­walks were il­le­gal park­ing and dys­func­tional street lamps. About 60 per­cent of more than 4,000 side­walk com­plaints per­tained to il­le­gal park­ing. Of­ten­times peo­ple re­sort to park­ing on streets and side­walks as park­ing lots in shop­ping malls and of­fice build­ings are al­ready full.

There is no quick fix for all the traf­fic prob­lems, but the only way to ad­dress the over­pop­u­la­tion of ve­hi­cles is to en­cour­age peo­ple to leave their mo­tor­bikes or cars at home and switch to pub­lic trans­porta­tion. Jakarta streets should be made un­friendly to pri­vate ve­hi­cles.

While wait­ing for the ar­rival of the MRT and other ma­jor pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tems, it is not a bad idea for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to con­sider dou­bling or tripling park­ing fees to dis­cour­age car use.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion should not spoil mo­torists any longer as the city’s car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of ve­hi­cles is nar­row­ing. Af­ter all, the city’s park­ing rates, cur­rently stand­ing at Rp 4,000 (30 US cents) per hour for cars and Rp 2,000 per hour for mo­tor­cy­cles, are among the low­est in the world.

An­other dis­in­cen­tive is rais­ing ve­hi­cle-re­lated taxes such as ve­hi­cle-own­er­ship trans­fer fees (BBN-KB), mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle tax (PKB) and fuel taxes.

Even if full mon­i­tor­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion re­mains dif­fi­cult, it will force mo­torists to think twice be­fore turn­ing on their ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially be­cause var­i­ous forms of rel­a­tively con­ve­nient modes of trans­porta­tion such as Tran­s­jakarta are in place.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bid to ex­pand and en­large side­walks in the city this year is an­other blow for mo­torists, but on the other hand it ben­e­fits pedes­tri­ans and en­cour­ages more peo­ple to walk.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has to act any­way, or else the city will con­tinue to lag be­hind other me­trop­o­lises. The gov­ern­ment’s as­pi­ra­tion to de­velop the cap­i­tal into a re­gional and global po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic player will never ma­te­ri­al­ize.

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