Jakartans are eagerly anticipating the opening of the capital’s long (loooong) awaited mass rapid transit system (MRT), which is scheduled to begin operating in March, but it looks like they’re going to have to wait a lot longer for the government’s other long promised measure to combat the city’s terrible traffic — an electronic road pricing system (ERP) similar to the one implemented in Singapore and many other major cities.
Although Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s administration had previously promised to start implementing the ERP this year, yesterday he told the media that the creation of the traffic control measure could become problematic if it was carried out too quickly and said he was currently waiting for a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the fate of ERP.
“Better that later we do not have more problems,” Anies said at Jakarta City Hall yesterday as quoted by Kompas.
Anies did not specify as to what potential problems he was referring to, but said it had to do with the tender process for the companies competing to handle the project, which he said had been done haphazardly. He mentioned that two of the competing companies, QFree and Kapsch TrafficCom, had backed out of the tender due to problems, leaving only one other company still technically in the running, PT Bali Towerindo Sentra.
Last week, Governor Anies also said that the ERP was no longer a priority for his administration this year, saying it was more important to focus on public transportation.
To be fair to Anies, previous Jakarta administrations, including those of now-President Joko Widodo and former Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, have struggled to get the ERP project off the ground. In fact, both Kapsch and Q-free conducted ERP tests in mid-2014, including the construction of two test ERP gates, but the tender process never progressed beyond that stage.
Many traffic weary Jakartans will be unhappy (if unsurprised) to hear that the ERP has been delayed yet again. However, one Jakartan who can and should help push the ERP process back on track is President Joko Widodo, who spoke just last week about the need to take drastic action to alleviate the terrible traffic situation in the Greater Jakarta Region, which he said costs the country up to IDR65 trillion (US$4.6 billion) per year.