Too Much Traffic, Too Little Time

Jakarta-Motorcycle-Traffic-Jam-201006We, Indonesian’s, are the proud owner of the title of the country that holds the city with the worst traffic in the entire world. So let’s all rejoice in this award given by the Castrol Drivers, a motor oils company, because it is a title that only we can hold. Or perhaps we can be realistic and not be proud of the traffic in our country. Whoever says they like the traffic because they can do their homework in the car or it gives them time to listen to the radio whose hosts are so funny it seems that listening to them talk for an hour does not get boring. Everyone knows that the large amount of cars, coupled with small roads, are what’s causing the traffic jams. Everyone I know (including myself) complains on a daily basis about the traffic but they don’t do anything about it. To get to work of course you need a car but how about menial things like going to the bank on the holidays? Perhaps going to the mall or a café? I go to a few cafes and Cilandak Town Square with my bike or longboard but as I do this on a weekly basis, I understand why other people do not do this. The main roads are filled with motorbikes who zoom away as they please, disregarding the safety of others and often disregarding traffic lights and proper driving etiquette. This makes it extremely dangerous for bikes to be riding around and making long journeys. Due to the humongous amount of motorbikes, they sometimes often take one lane just for themselves.

Another reason why traffic jams happen, especially in smaller roads, is the fact that there are multiple projects going on simultaneously such as the MRT project, road expansion and the building of flyover. The MRT project for instance is starting to tick me off because it seems as though they did not plan it out properly. Every part of it is being built simultaneously which means that the streets are getting smaller everywhere. When in Makkah, I saw the Bin Laden Cleaning Company in action and boy oh boy were they efficient. They closed of small parts of the mosque and cleaned in under 5 minutes and then they would move on to the next part. Why couldn’t our government do this? Localize the building of these roads in certain areas, make sure they are finished to the extent that the roads could then be open again, and then continue to the next bit. Traffic may be reduced if this was to happen, but it did not, so it is not.

As to why traffic is bad in places with smaller roads, for example places like Kemang, we can blame it on the people who park on the roads. Now surely we all have done this in the past, we might still do it now but please stop. For one you are being extremely selfish and for two, it is a health hazard. When I did my internship in the Jakarta Government Office (Balai Kota Jakarta) I remembered Ahok, the Governor of Jakarta, say that the reason why the fire department is always late to the fires is because they could not get their trucks past certain points because people were parking on the side of the road.

So perhaps we could stop blaming the government and its president for the traffic jams because it is not completely their fault, it is partly ours. Although this may be true, the job of the government is to tackle these problems and so far all we have heard are empty promises. Maybe if Jokowi can stop worrying about drug trafficking and focus on the traffic that I believe demands more attention, he can think of a solution. But if we do our part, the government might then do their part. Although there is no guarantee of this as politicians often make promises they cannot keep, we can surely try to not park on the side of the roads, or even try to bike to places like the market or malls that are close. For people who say “Malls don’t have bike racks and my bike will be stolen” stop making excuses, malls do have bike racks, you just have to find them (most Seven Eleven has a massive pole you can tie your bike to and I’m sure Alpha Mart has the exact same thing). I have been biking to mini marts and cafes and malls for about 3 or 4 years and never has my bike been stolen.

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