Jakarta’s terrible traffic causes US$5 billion in losses per year, lack of MRT major cause: minister

File photo of Jalan M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta. Photo: Coconuts Media
File photo of Jalan M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta. Photo: Coconuts Media

The psychological suffering that frustrated commuters in Jakarta must face on a daily basis due to the capital’s infamous traffic can’t be quantified with a number. But the government can put a figure on the amount of money lost due to macet each year, and it’s a staggeringly large figure.

“The congestion in Jakarta has caused a loss of US$5 billion (IDR67 trillion) per year, because so many of the roads are small,” said Minister of National Development Planning (BNP) Bambang Brodjonegoro at the University of Indonesia in Depok today as quoted by Kompas.

Bambang said one of the major causes for the capital’s congestions was the government’s lateness in building rail-based transportation systems such as the mass rapid transit (MRT) and other transportation infrastructure.

The minister noted that studies on the feasibility of the MRT were done even back in the 1990s. And while the MRT project finally got off the ground under the leadership of then-Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and his successor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, the current estimate is that the first MRT route, from Lebak Bulus to the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout, will only go into operation in early 2019.

In addition to the long overdue MRT, the government has been struggling for 5 years to get a Singapore-style electronic road pricing system off the ground, but logistical challenges have prevented it from getting the green light.

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