Jakarta Gov. Anies and police in open disagreement over removal of HI Roundabout pedestrian bridges

Workers dismantling one of the pedestrian bridges around the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout. Photo: Jakarta Smart City
Workers dismantling one of the pedestrian bridges around the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout. Photo: Jakarta Smart City

The Asian Games start in just two-and-a-half weeks, but while Indonesia’s athletes may be unified in their quest for glory at the massive sporting competition, the team in charge of Jakarta is arguing in public over the capital’s preparations for the high-profile event.

The latest to join the chorus of critics who have lambasted Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and his administration’s poorly thought out pre-game policies is National Police Traffic Corps chief Royke Lumowa. With the traffic police under serious pressure to keep the capital’s notorious congestion in check during the duration of the games so that athletes and officials can travel between the sporting venues in under 30 minutes, Rokye could not hide his bewilderment over Governor Anies’ decision to hastily remove the pedestrian bridges around the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout (aka Bundaran HI, perhaps the most iconic spot in Jakarta after Monas and certainly one of the most heavily trafficked).

“I do not know why it was hastily demolished, they should have waited until the Asian Games,” Royke said at Jakarta Police Headquarters today as quoted by Detik.

Governor Anies had previously announced that the pedestrian bridges around the Jakarta landmark would be removed to beautify the area and make the Selamat Datang (Welcome) statue at the center of the roundabout more visible to visitors.

The bridges were removed on Monday night and have now been replaced with pelican crossings (which is just the term for crosswalks with traffic lights and indicators for pedestrians to signal when they can cross). Anies said the pelican crossings would only be temporary as new underpasses were being built around the roundabout to connect pedestrians to the new Bundaran HI Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station. The MRT is scheduled to start service in March of next year

Royke said the police were worried that the pelican crossings will cause heavy traffic throughout the area (which wasn’t exactly known for having light traffic to begin with). He also accused Anies of failing to coordinate with the police on his plans.

Anies responded to the police objections by saying that breaking down the pedestrian bridges would take the same amount of work if it was done in July or December. He did not address police concerns about how bad the pelican crossing will affect traffic along one the capital’s busiest thoroughfares.

Media reports show pedestrians giving the new pelican crossings mixed reviews, with some saying it was more convenient now that they didn’t have to climb up the bridges’ stairs but others noting that cars still often ended up stuck in the middle of the crossing paths due to the heavy traffic. Transportation Department officers have been assigned with trying to keep vehicles from crossing the line.

Governor Anies Baswedan’s administration has been getting hit with a barrage of criticism over its perceived lack of preparations for the the Asian Games, including controversies over road separators that were repainted in rainbow colors but had to quickly be repainted black and white after realizing that it was a violation of safety regulations, a smelly canal curtain, temporary grass strips and other apparently ad hoc policies.

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