Traffic jam in Jakarta
Are you in this photo? Photo courtesy of

In case you haven’t noticed, the traffic situation in Jakarta has worsened over the first two months of the year rather than improved. It is now as bad as I have ever seen it. There are jams, delays and diversions every day, caused by—well, everything—from floods, to the amazingly named “Listrik Pintar“ (Clever Electricity) excavations along the side of the roads, and the completely inexplicable blocking off of very useful access roads at certain times by the authorities, and of course, the wonderful expressions of democracy (demonstrations) that still happen and are set to continue as the debates over the omnibus bills start to escalate.

So, what can we do? Well, perhaps actually have the relevant police and city traffic teams in the places where they are needed when they are needed, which never seems to happen. (I thought there were thousands of CCTV cameras now installed to alert these folks to all the impending critical areas?) This would certainly help, but how to achieve that? Don’t they actually listen to the radio shows that the frustrated drivers phone in to? That would be a start!

Secondly, let's attack and solve problem junctions everyone knows are a nightmare. The Antasari – Puri Mutiara junction is a complete disaster with queues going back into Kemang in the morning on Puri Mutiara, and the same on Antasari heading north even on weekends because the overpass access is after the traffic lights, and it’s only in the morning that the up-ramp is used to keep the traffic flowing! But there are many more spots like this (the Ampera-Simatupang junction every morning now is another). But they are solvable and just need smart people to think the challenges through. Where are they? Can’t we ask the powers that be to do this?

But here is my most controversial idea, which needs to be kicked into gear ASAP! We now have literally millions of “ride-hailing” bikes on the road, run by the ultra-famous dinosaurs—no that’s not the word—unicorns. And these unicorns register, and, I just heard this, train their drivers before they are given their app and their green uniforms. Judging by my personal observation, this training does NOT include road behaviour and discipline rules, nor does it include maximum noise limits or emission controls. Why not? It is supposed to.

Let’s get a movement started to get these road rulers under control because honestly, they are behaving just as badly in green jackets as they did in their old ojek days. Let’s start taking pictures of them as they break through red lights, as they turn left from the right lane, as they come romping up the wrong side of the road and the wrong way up one-way systems. Let’s ask Grab and Go-Jek to fire any driver who gets three pictures sent in showing a wilful disregard for the law, and other people’s safety. It’s time for people power to take back the roads and restore some sanity and some order, because it isn’t here at the moment. Surely these giants of the start-up world can take the lead and show it can be done. Then their drivers can start telling the other motorcyclists to behave and the biking fraternity can “self-regulate”.

You know what? I think solving the traffic crisis in Jakarta will do more for international investment confidence than the currently hot topics of the omnibus bills! Let’s make it happen!

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.