For Alfini Lestari, 34, Jakarta sidewalks are like a battlefield where pedestrians fight for their right to pass in safety against motorcyclists who encroach on the space to avoid traffic gridlock.
The sidewalks along the capital’s main thoroughfare on Jl. Jend. Sudirman used to be spacious enough for Jakarta pedestrians to roam around. However, the space for pedestrians has got narrower since the Jakarta administration kicked off the development of the Mass Rapid Transit underground rail, forcing the administration to reduce the space for pedestrians to make way for motorized traffic.
Worsening snarls, especially during peak hours, have become inevitable. Many two-wheelers break the law and take to the sidewalks, putting pedestrians in danger.
Alfini, who works as a cook at the Sultan Residence apartment, has taken action, single-handedly blocking motorcyclists, risking her own safety. Alfini has on occasion brought the traffic violations to the attention of traffic police officers at a nearby police post.
Alfini has had to take this action more often now after the Jakarta administration scrapped its three-in-one traffic policy, which required vehicles passing Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta to carry at least three people.
The Pedestrian Coalition has for years been fighting for the same cause and it claims that 80 percent of sidewalks in the capital are inadequate with 18 pedestrians nationwide being killed each day in road accidents.
The public monitoring application, Qlue, reveals that at least 5,797 reports on sidewalks were submitted from January to April to the app, ranging from illegal parking and street vendors to damaged facilities and traffic violations.
The Jakarta Post/ Dhoni Setiawan