Do you own a car in Jakarta? Yes? Really sorry but you don’t – you only own half a car!

Jakarta has been applying new odd-even traffic restrictions since 2016. NOW!JAKARTA

Introducing the Odd-Even Car policy to try to control traffic congestion is brilliant. What a great way to keep people off the roads and sitting quietly at home! If this is the best idea available I will be very surprised but it nicely rounds out a series of very innovative and imaginative programmes to “manage” Jakarta traffic which have only one effect: confusing the citizens especially car owners with lots of contradicting plans.

Why allow people to buy cars then tell them they can only use it every second day? Maybe there should be a warning given in all the car showrooms: “Fantastic bargain, full price saloon for use every second day”! Can everyone have half of their car tax back please? I’m sure that has never been even thought of! Yes there is a serious problem but the solutions just have not addressed it.

But let’s analyse this problem a little less emotionally and a little more thoroughly: the 3-in1 policy was aimed at trying to get better use out of private cars but failed to create effective car pools, and ended up with an informal system of “jockeys’ whose services as “paid passengers” totally nullified the programme. I wonder where they all are now? Smelly kids and mothers with tiny babies that never woke up? All mysteriously disappeared when the new plan came along.

The “busway” system, based on a plan in Bogota or Quito, or one of the other centres of world traffic expertise, which takes one third and sometimes a half of the available road space but somehow fails to provide enough buses to fill that space, so the streets look calm and empty with no traffic on them! Very few people have converted from car to bus, despite the obvious great advantages. Why? Because they love their cars!

Now we have the odd-even number plate system (as well) which, in the absence of comprehensive public transport coverage, allows many people to have a real excuse for not going to work at all! My own home in Ciganjur is simply not served by public transport to anywhere I want to go so I am one of millions who are left with nothing to do but settle down with a coffee and wait for 24 hours. Thank you Jakarta!

So Dear Jakarta Transport Dept. who is more important, your ordinary citizens or the athletes coming to the games? You’ve already made your choice and honestly, it’s the right one. You are prioritising 100 golfers going to Pondok Indah Golf Course over the 25,000 people who use that road as access to Jakarta every day! Yes! I love golf, it should be everyone’s priority!

If you want to have real long-term, well thought out and executed strategies let’s see what great plans have been made in Mexico City, Mumbai or Dhaka to back up the brilliant plan from Colombo or Bogota or Rio, or wherever the current amazing ideas came from!

This whole plan has made me feel really odd. But one day I’ll get even. (Then I can go to work!).

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.