Jakarta official promises introspection after capital listed among cities with bad urban planning

Jakarta skyline. Photo: Coconuts Media
Jakarta skyline. Photo: Coconuts Media

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Jakarta was named among cities with bad urban planning by an architecture publication, prompting an expected, if somewhat defensive, response from the capital’s vice governor.

Rethinking the Future (RTF), a platform that encourages and promotes excellence in architecture on a global scale, went against its own grain by recently publishing an article titled, 10 Examples of Bad Urban City Planning.

Though the list was organized in no particular order, Jakarta did occupy first place. This has led to local media outlets misinterpreting the listicle as a ranking, misreporting en masse today that Jakarta has been named as the city with the worst urban planning in the world.

But we digress. On Jakarta, RTF had this to say:

“A chronically congested capital city that is choking on fumes and drowning in polluted water, Jakarta is said to be the ‘worst-designed place’ on Earth. Decades of thoughtless planning interventions have led the city to this state where the infrastructural mishaps highlight the poor quality of life here. Inadequate green and open spaces, extreme traffic congestion, and unplanned urban sprawl have together contributed to the situation.  With the worst-traffic in the world, another contributing factor is that the development of infrastructure lies with the local government, reducing the possibility of implementing long-term projects.”

We have, of course, heard it all before, and we have heard the same promises from city officials over the years to various degrees of fulfillment.

This time, Jakarta Vice Governor Ahmad Riza Patria AKA Ariza said the provincial government will continue to strive to make improvements in urban development and maintenance, while acknowledging that some things have gradually changed for the better in his and Governor Anies Baswedan’s tenure.

“There have been improvements here and there to problems such as clean water supply, air pollution, green space, education, health, and urban planning,” Ariza said.

“We will look into it, whether or not it’s true that Jakarta is the city with the worst urban planning in the world.”

As we said before, no, sir, that is not what RTF implied in its listicle. And if we ignore RTF’s listicle, we would certainly find little justification to brand Jakarta as the city with the worst planning in the world, because we have seen much worse cities in our travels.

That said, we hope that the provincial government won’t settle with Jakarta not being the absolute worst.

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