Jakarta Mulls Gridlock in 2014

A monorail is not scheduled to be completed until at least 2016, while Jakarta’s much-discussed MRT is due to commence operation the following year. (AFP Photo)

A monorail is not scheduled to be completed until at least 2016, while Jakarta’s much-discussed MRT is due to commence operation the following year. (AFP Photo)

With hordes of cheap, new cars and motorcycles continuing to hit the city’s streets, and the two rail-based public transit networks not expected to be ready until at least 2016, experts have warned that Jakarta faces imminent gridlock next year.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, chairman of the city-funded Jakarta Transportation Council, said on Monday that he was concerned about the lack of effort to curb the number of private vehicles from clogging the city’s streets, particularly in the chronically congested downtown area, and the slow pace of improvement in public transportation.

“Experts have predicted that Jakarta will come to a total gridlock by 2014 and that option is looking increasingly likely,” Azas said.

“This is the consequence that Jakarta residents have to accept due to the absence of any significant policy action to improve the traffic situation.”

He added that, “This was supposed to be the year when the Jakarta administration took concrete action to reduce the traffic jams in the capital. But nothing has been done to date.”

Azas said the city administration had touted several plans to regulate the number of private vehicles on the streets, including by imposing an electronic road pricing scheme for certain streets; restricting car use on alternate days based on whether the number plate ended in an even or odd number; and by adding 1,000 new buses to the city’s public transportation fleet.

He said the congestion had only gotten worse with the start of construction of the mass rapid transit rail line, with the work exacerbating traffic jams in areas already suffering from high traffic volume.

He added that work on another rail line, the monorail, would also create more traffic congestion, particularly in the Kuningan business district.

The monorail is not expected to be completed until at least 2016, and the MRT in 2017.

Yoga Adiwinarto, director of the nongovernmental Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, agreed that traffic was getting worse because there was no incentive for people to switch from using private vehicles to taking public transportation alternatives.

“The Jakarta administration must immediately improve the quality of both the TransJakarta and non-TransJakarta bus networks as a short-term measure,” he said on Monday.

He called on the city administration to reduce the number of private vehicles by limiting the number of parking spaces and by imposing higher parking fees.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo previously warned of worsening congestion as a result of the central government’s “low-cost green car” policy, which waives the tax on cars with a small engine capacity and has fed a boom in sales of eligible models from Toyota, Daihatsu and Honda. JG

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