If the government could fix the macet (traffic jams) problem in Jabodetabek (an acronym for the Greater Jakarta region including Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi), we would be a whole lot richer as a nation, according to President Joko Widodo.
During a meeting to discuss the issue at the Presidential Palace today, President Jokowi said the productivity losses resulting from traffic jams in the region amounts to a staggeringly huge amount.
“According to data I received from Bappenas (National Development Planning Agency), every year we lose IDR65 trillion (US$4.6 billion) in Jabodetabek because of traffic jams. IDR65 trillion,” Jokowi told reporters today, as quoted by Liputan 6.
Jokowi said that amount of money could have sped up existing infrastructure projects, such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) railway systems in Jakarta that are expected to be operational this year.
“We can’t keep continuing like this. We have to dare to start. We must plan ahead so the IDR65 trillion actually becomes useful facilities instead of just becoming exhaust fumes that fill up the cities,” he said, adding that he wants commuters in those cities to ditch their vehicles and use the likes of the MRT and LRT once they are finished.
Jokowi’s quantification of the macet losses is more or less in line with the figure National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro announced two years ago. True enough, between then and now, traffic in Jabodetabek doesn’t seem to have gotten any better.
Much hope is riding on the MRT and LRT to alleviate traffic jams in the region. The long-anticipated MRT is expected to be ready in March 2019., while the LRT system connecting Kelapa Gading to the Jakarta International Velodrome in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, is expected to be operational this month.
In addition, Jakarta has long contemplated an electronic road pricing (ERP) system on certain major roads, but, under the current administration at least, it appears the plan is in limbo.