I don’t know about you but I honestly believe that governments are elected – and paid – to look after their citizens, exercising their judgment as to the right path of course, but basically looking at the essential elements in the lives of their people and saying: “right we’ve got to fix this or make that or change the other.” Is that happening? Well to some extent yes, there are programs like the BPJS health program which provides free medical care to those that need it but delivers it in such a bureaucratic, admin-focused, time-consuming way that exhausts the poor people who need care quickly and easily. But I guess the intentions are correct, just like so many government programs around the world, the red tape comes before the bandages.

But here in Jakarta there is one problem that no one seems to even be trying to fix: traffic. Yes, I know I have been down this rabbit hole a hundred times but actually, it’s now worse than ever, and honestly, there are days when I feel that the struggle to get to the office is just too much. Why? Because the journey is riddled with problems that a smart ten-year-old could fix, but it seems that there are no smart ten-year-olds in charge of Jakarta traffic. In fact, there seems to be no one in charge.

There are multiple PLN and cable works dug up at the side of the road, but no one is actually working there, inconveniencing thousands of people. There are schools with kids being dropped off and picked up by cars and motorbikes that just stop anywhere, without control or penalty. The parking-attendants-dressed-as-police raise their red wands and stop the flow of traffic every 10 meters to let their rich patrons out for Rp2000. The traffic lights are always on red for the major roads and green for the minor – and are anyway ignored by the zillion motorbikes who march to their own rules, blocking, jamming, annoying and frustrating everyone for their own desperate journeys.

There are delivery vans reversing into convenience stores every 50 meters and street vendors pushing their carts at 1kmph blocking the streets. There are pedestrians walking along the side of streets with no sidewalks creating danger for both parties, there are motorcycles with little kids standing up ready to smash themselves on our front windscreen, and there are buses forcing their way out of their designated lanes to pick up passengers illegally.

The toll roads are jammed, but we still have to pay. The side streets that are too narrow for just one car and a motorbike are used by huge trucks to escape the main roads causing serious, mind-blowing and avoidable delays. It is surely easy to put up signs that restrict the size of vehicles on small roads, or, as I have suggested many times, start a one-way system.

So, as we get back to the going-to-the-office-every-day system, I’ll bet there are many like me saying “Dear Mr. Governor, please, please, please, sort this out now. We can’t wait 25 years for the MRT to be finished. I have to work, but I hate to spend 4 hours a day in traffic. Please do something now.”

Does anyone else feel like this?

Alistair Speirs

Alistair Speirs

Alistair has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for 25 years. He started NOW! Magazines as the region’s preferred community magazine.