I don’t know if you’ve noticed but life in Jakarta has rebounded to pre-covid levels, and perhaps more. Cafes and restaurants are busy, with the tables quite often full of laptops and notepads, as people take their negotiations to their favourite coffee shops. And there are more and more of them: PIM III is bursting with activity, One Satrio hasn’t even finished opening and its restaurants are full, Chillax the same. Wow, Jakarta’s revival is underway. 

But wait, as I drive between these exciting and innovative venues, I note as you will have, that the traffic seems to be worse than ever. While the private sector has been ‘building back better’, the city government has been, well we don’t know, making new stadiums, enlarging sidewalks to reduce traffic flow, crating unused (and often dangerous and unsafe)  yellow paths for the blind,  allowing PLN and internet companies to dig up the roads, and oh yes, building giant bus stops in Sudirman and Thamrin, which are supposed to compete with the private sector food courts, but which only connect to customers by street level crossings that actually and deliberately stop the flow of traffic! Thanks guys. We are very impressed with these monstrosities.

I’m joking of course, but this is serious, do they really think that giant bus stops will get people out of their cars and onto buses? No! We just curse them as we pass by – slowly – trying to get to our meetings to keep the economy booming. And the complete lack of vision to assist us is now apparent. 

What we need is 10,000 more buses, much better linkage between massive car parks (so far none) at MRT and bus stations, to encourage and enable “park and ride” and a ban on motorcycles in central areas. Then we might see an improvement in what is quickly becoming a gridlocked Jakarta. It’s time to rethink and redesign. Sorry it’s way past time. 

We’re back – but we’re not better

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.