With the Jakarta Provincial Government deep into preparations for hosting the Asian Games, which begins on August 18, Governor Anies Baswedan’s administration has been getting hit with a constant barrage of criticism over its perceived lack of preparations for the massive sporting event, including controversies over a smelly canal curtain, temporary grass strips and other apparently ad hoc policies.
The latest colorful anecdote added to that pile of accusations concern the government’s decision to paint a large swathe of boring black and white cement road separators in some parts of the city, one of the first being Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta.
After people started noticing the roadblocks’ rainbow redesigns over the weekend, Anies was asked about it by the media and said that it was one of several steps take by the government to beautify the city before the Asian Games. He said that the makeover was just temporary and that they had only done it in late July as they were afraid the colors might have faded before the end of the games if they had repainted them earlier.
“The nature of Indonesia is that it’s hot and rainy, so we do not want the colors to fade during the Asian Games. This was all planned ahead of time, it was just executed in July,” Anies said on Sunday as quoted by Tribun.
Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said that the roadblock repainting was the “people’s initiative” but then confusingly said that the Jakarta Provincial Government had asked the mayor of Central Jakarta to give some of the roadblocks in his part of the city the rainbow treatment. But then he also said he was pleased that citizens in some other parts of the city had taken the initiative on their own. Photos such as the ones below show that government workers did handle at least some of the rainbow painting.
— PosKota News (@poskotanews) July 31, 2018
Etapi gue seneng lho liat separator warna-warni begini. Pemilihan selang-seling warnanya juga pas. Terima kasih PPSU. pic.twitter.com/q9tFW9nxNW
— Oktavia Manurung (@oktaviamanroe) July 30, 2018
Some Jakarta netizens seemed to like the colorful blocks while other made fun of them, such as this brilliant meme noting there resemblance to a real life version of the hardest track from the classic Nintendo racing game Mario Kart.
Bocoran sirkuit Mario Kart terbaru: Rainbow Road Jakarta. pic.twitter.com/MulaA5DWgL
— Handoko Tjung (@handokotjung) July 29, 2018
But many others questioned the decorative decision, noting that the reason the blocks were painted black and white was for safety concerns. However, the deputy head of the Jakarta Transportation Department, Sigit Wijatmiko, said on Sunday that the rainbow separators were not illegal because the law does not specify their color since their effectiveness was based only on their form, unlike a marker.
However, that reasoning apparently didn’t hold up to much scrutiny as, after just a few days of fabulousness, the separators were back in their original boring but better-in-terms-of-safety black-and-white paint jobs.
Anies explained the reason for this today by saying that Yusmada Gaizal, Jakarta’s assistant head of Development and the Environment, had informed him that the road separator blocks were indeed classified as road markers after all and thus were required to follow the color guidelines stipulated by the law for safety reasons.
“The Development assistant head yesterday explained that it’s important that we follow the provisions on road markings because their functions are not only aesthetics but also for safety,” Anies said today as quoted by Detik.
Jakarta Police officials explained that, while it wasn’t well known, the black and white separators were meant to signal to drivers that they were within a zebra crossing zone in which pedestrians might be traversing the road.
Although the cost of the error is not much more than that of the paint and labor for repainting them twice, to many it reflects a pattern seen in many of the Jakarta government’s temporary improvements for the Asian Games, such as the lack of cement walking paths in front of the bus stops on Jalan Sudirman’s newly laid but apparently temporary grass strips.
In another example of poor paint planning pointed out by memes below, Anies’ administration had also added rainbow color panels to the side of the Sentiong Canal, before the governor decided to cover the canal with a black nylon cloth to keep the canal’s foul appearance and smell from disturbing the visiting athletes staying in the nearby Wisma Atlet dormitory complex in Kemayoran.