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Traffic congestion in Jakarta

Amsterdam City Center
Amsterdam City Center is not Jammed Like Jakarta


Jakarta is a city of traffic jams. Even in the middle of the night the traffic congestion has not been unraveled. That is what makes this city is not comfortable to live. Moreover, at the time people come home from work on a Friday or the day before a long holiday, the congestion occurred throughout the city. At the moment of this severe congestion car cannot move at all, people seemed resigned to be able to achieve the destiny at any time. Rather than trapped in the traffic jam, the Bajaj (three wheel motor cycle) and taxi drivers choose to have a break, playing cards with friends. Policemen are not present anymore because they cannot do anything to solve this bottleneck.

Jams everywhere

Traffic jams happen not only in major streets crowded with offices, but also hit residential areas such as Lautze street in Central Jakarta, or the streets of neighborhoods in Kebayoran Baru. So that residents of the settlements prefer to stay at home, avoid meeting with friends outside the house. Not only cars, motorcycles also experienced congestion even with a small vehicle body that can move between stopped cars. As so many motorcycles move in a narrow corridor, finally they jam as well. So as to avoid congestion, many people choose to enter the office after lunch and return home at midnight.

Congestion in Jakarta is already very severe. Imagine, from Kalimalang to Grand Kemang Hotel which the straight distance of only 12 km and should be reached within 20 minutes, was forced to travel 4 hours. Total congestion caused mileage from the end of Lautze Street to Kartini II Street in central Jakarta was forced to be taken 1 hour, although in normal traffic can be reached  within 5 minutes. Fifteen years ago along Prapanca street in the afternoon was already jammed, but not as bad as now. Although an overpass has been built on top of the road, traffic flow was also jammed and more severe than fifteen years ago. In one and a half decade Jakarta was increasingly filled with motor vehicles both cars and motorbikes. One family in Jakarta now has not only a car, but three cars. One car for dropping off school children in Pasar Minggu, one more car for the father who works at Jalan Sudirman, and one more car for the mother who works in Kelapa Gading, while  they live in Cawang.

Surprisingly in a very severe congestion there is still official car guided by an outrider passing through the traffic jam and forcing other cars to move aside giving a way for the official car. The principle that everyone has the same level of importance is no longer valid. The officials forgot that although he, guided by outrider, can move quickly, he increased jam along the way he passed.

Why Traffic Jam?

Why does Jakarta suffer traffic jam and whether the strategy that has been applied to solve this problem successful? "Three In One" (one car three passenger), which has long been enacted on major streets such as Sudirman street and MH Thamrin street in the morning and the afternoon when people return home from office, now the traffic jam is tantamount to the time outside of Three In One. The construction of many overpasses is one way to solve this problem. But it is hard to say that it works. "Busway" has been launched to overcome this bottleneck, but precisely the opposite the bus stuck in traffic jam because of the rules that its path must be sterile of another vehicle turned out to be broken, many other vehicles entering into the busway lane.

If now a subway is being built, will it solve the problem? The answer may also be the same as when the busway would be built a decade ago, prediction that traffic congestion will be reduced is wrong. Not because Jakarta residents are not willing to ride busway, the always full and congested busway in peak hours is the evidence, but the number of cars pouring the streets is too much. Similarly, all the commuter train to Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang or Serpong always full, even at peak hours people have to stand crammed into train cars. Nevertheless, the road to Bogor is still jammed so that the airport bus from Bogor to the airport that needs only one hour in the morning at three o’clock, in the afternoon needs 5 hours.

Because of the congestion there are website and radio that informs congestion points so that people can avoid roads that got traffic jams and seek other alternatives. But all of these information are useless if the entire road in Jakarta gridlocked and whether people want it or not they entertain themselves by hearing radio while waiting line of cars that are not moving. The city built with the beautiful canals of the 17th century has now been transformed into a giant terrible congestion.

Centered in Jakarta

Back to the question, why the traffic congestion in Jakarta is not only at main streets but local street, not only in the city center but also in the suburbs? People may blame the lack of public transport, but it only has a share of approximately 20% of traffic congestion in Jakarta so that although the subway is completed the street remains jam. If not because of public transport, what is the problem then?

Since the Independence Day Indonesia's development is concentrated in Jakarta, as well as today. See, all the headquarters of each company is in Jakarta. All industrial activity is in the vicinity of Jakarta and its head office in Sudirman street and MH Thamrin street. As if Indonesia that is so large and has thousands of cities do not have anywhere else besides Jakarta for industrial and office center.

Because the center of Indonesia is Jakarta, the theory of urbanization prevails, Jakarta’s population increases. Due to increasing population, hundreds of mall grew in the city. The largest and most luxurious mall in the world is in Jakarta. In addition to mall there are also hundreds of apartments and flats of which location are not regulated in detail. Indonesia's largest airport is located in Cengkareng near Jakarta. Indonesia’s largest port is Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta. As a result, since all gathered in Jakarta, traffic jams occur.

European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, their economic activities are not concentrated in one place. Berlin is the capital of Germany, but not all headquarters are there. Just look at Mercedes Benz headquartered in Stuttgart city, as well as the largest airport is in Frankfurt far from Berlin. All the head offices are spread evenly across the country; they do not load on a single city.

More than that, the city space is also well regulated. In downtown Leuven, Belgium, are set so as not to be built skyscrapers, but skyscraper only allowed to be built outside the ring road. Amsterdam that used to be a clone of Batavia, the old city of Jakarta, the city center is the preserved old city and almost all become a pedestrian street.

The central government ever considers moving their office to Palangkaraya in Kalimantan, thereby reducing the burden of congestion in Jakarta. Suppose it happens nonetheless Jakarta is still in traffic jam because the population of Jakarta is not necessarily willing to move to Palangkaraya, as there is no direct relationship between the government institution and the private sector especially in a democratic country.

National Spatial Planning

To reduce congestion in Jakarta is closely connected with national planning. Planning cities in a country should not be concentrated in a certain city such as Jakarta. Therefore, the government should be able to develop magnets of growth in the other places. President Jokowi’s program to developing many cities on the border of the country, will indirectly reduce traffic congestion in Jakarta. If the cities at the country border can grow and various industries as well as its headquarters moved here from Jakarta, the congestion in Jakarta will be reduced and more comfortable to live in. This is indeed a long-term planning but must start from now.

Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in Europe are small countries, compare to Indonesia that is large and divided into three time zones. However, all economic and social activities such as education and recreation centered in Jakarta, hence the traffic congestion in this city is getting worse. To reduce centering in Jakarta government should completely change the governance of the National Spatial Plan (RTRWN) so that the cities which became National Activity Centers (PKN) to function properly. This should be accompanied by long-term infrastructure development. Overall RTRWN has to be planned again, as long as this is only a plan on paper and cannot be implemented.

If the city is likened to the human body and traffic is likened to circulatory disorders, the body becomes sick. The sickness of the body can be due to external factors such as the environment in which human beings live. Likewise, the city will also be disturbed and uncomfortable for living, if the country in which the city located is sick because its spatial order is not well regulated.

Perhaps you will say that the relationship between congestion in a city and country spatial planning is too much. However, Jakarta will not be free of traffic jams before Indonesia spatial order is well managed.