After almost one year in office, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo is still struggling to ease Jakarta’s traffic congestion, one of the capital’s biggest problems. Joko knows well that the only way to solve the problem is to build a better public transportation system. But so far the development of the mass rapid transit and monorail systems, as well as upgrades of the busway and train networks, has been slow at best. Joko also knows that his success or failure will define his legacy as governor, and any possible presidential candidacy, whether in 2014 or 2019.
Although it came as a shock to some people, it is understandable that the governor has expressed his opposition toward the central government’s push for the production of the so-called low-cost green cars.
We share his concerns and view that Jakarta needs a comprehensive mass transit system, not more cars, even if they are affordable.
There are already some 2.5 million privately owned vehicles currently clogging the capital’s streets, with hundreds of thousands of new cars being added every year.
We believe that the central government has no ill intention with its policy to support the low-cost, green cars, and that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does indeed want Jakarta, the gateway to the rest of the country, to become a better city.
Solving the ongoing standoff between the governor and the central government should be a matter of solidifying mutual goals and working toward better communication and coordination. With the shared goal of a more accessible capital for everybody, it should be possible for both parties to come up with a win-win solution.
Joko will not be able to do his job as a governor of the country’s largest city without the support of the central government, but the latter also has much to gain from a less-congested capital.