Transportation projects that are not part of a wider integrated transportation development policy will not provide the long-term solutions needed to address Jakarta’s traffic woes, experts have warned.
“Ad hoc projects are just like drugs,” Azas Tigor Nainggolan, from the Jakarta Transportation Council (DTKJ), said at a recent public discussion. “They can only relieve our problems for a short period of time. They can be addictive, but in the long run they can turn into a handicap.”
He was referring to a proposal by state construction company Hutama Karya for a Rp 10 trillion ($1 billion) skytrain linking Jakarta to Bekasi, and an elevated toll road, whose cost has not yet been determined, running from Cibubur in East Jakarta to Senayan in South Jakarta.
The elevated toll road was proposed by state toll road operator Jasa Marga and is not part of a planned series of six inner-city toll roads. Running 23 kilometers and expected to be finished in two years, the proposed road would be expected to help alleviate traffic congestion on the existing toll road into the city by 20 to 30 percent.
But Azas is skeptical. “[More toll roads] is definitely not the answer as they only accommodate more private vehicles from outside Jakarta to get into the city,” he said.
According to a 2011 study by the DTKJ, there are approximately 2.9 million vehicles from neighboring Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi entering Jakarta every day combined.
The proposed toll road project is currently being discussed with the State Enterprises Ministry.
“It’s still being studied,” the minister, Dahlan Iskan, said last month as quoted by Kompas daily. “If the government agrees, no tender will be necessary since it is an initiative of Jasa Marga.”
Heru Wisnu Wibowo, an official from the ministry’s Directorate General of Railway Transportation, concedes that the country is no stranger to unplanned projects.
“Basically, anyone can propose a project,” he said. “As long as the regional governments and the related ministries agree to it and the funding is clear, then they can go ahead.”
Elisa Sutanudjaja, an analyst from the Rujak Center for Urban Studies, blames the government’s inconsistency as one of the reasons why despite a long list of transportation plans and studies for Jakarta, only a few have ever been carried out.
“Through the years we keep on seeing projects such as the monorail, elevated toll roads and others popping up but that’s not what the city really needs [based on previous assessments],” she said.
She adds that the millions of rupiah that the government has invested in studies, such as the 2004 Study on the Integrated Transportation Master Plan for Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi), or Sitramp, have simply gone to waste. The Sitramp had to be revised in 2010 due to lack of progress.
“The monorail and the six inner-city toll roads, which were actually not included in the original plan, were included later as discussions were already under way,” Elisa said.
The Jakarta Transportation Office is considering shelving parts of the monorail project and using the abandoned pillars for an elevated busway lane.
Besides the inconsistency in the city’s transportation programs, the revised Sitramp also cites the lack of coordination between regional governments and a supporting legal foundation.
“Not every government office has made public transportation their priority,” said Felix Iryantomo, from the Transportation Ministry’s Directorate General of Land Transportation.
“Excluding Jakarta, the surrounding regions have only allocated limited funding for transportation.”
Achmad Izzul Waro, a researcher from the Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI), echoed Felix’s statement, adding that it was hard to persuade regional officials to prioritize public transportation when there was no prospect of financial profit in it for them.
“This is found all across the country. Local governments prefer to accommodate the growth of private vehicle ownership, which means increased numbers of licenses being issued and a corresponding increase to the region’s revenue,” Achmad said. “Public transportation, on the other hand, is not self-sustaining and has to depend on public subsidies.”