Traffic rush hours affected by soccer mad commuters
Finding himself trapped in a total gridlock in the Taman Mini–Cawang toll road after midday on Friday was something Amrullah did not expect. The Transjakarta bus driver plying the Pinang Ranti–Pluit route complained about the unusual congestion that had occurred over the past several days.
After barely escaping the congestion that forced him to drive the bus at 30 kilometers per hour for more than 25 minutes to reach Cawang UKI shelter, the bus got into another gridlock along Jl. MT Haryono and Jl. Gatot Subroto.
“This kind of traffic jam is usually seen between 6:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., but not at this hour,” he said.
Amrullah said that the midday congestion along the bus route was rarely seen unless there was an accident or demonstration.
Rudianto, Transjakarta driver corridor V plying Ragunan–Dukuh Atas route, shared a similar experience.
“Over the last few days, it feels like the rush-hour period has changed a little. The traffic in Jl. Warung Jati and Jl. Mampang Prapatan is much smoother in the morning at about 8 a.m., but the congestion lasts longer than usual, till midday,” he said.
The midday congestion is also found along the Cawang–Semanggi toll road. The gridlock, especially near the Tegal Parang toll exit, can stretch for more than 500 meters.
Wasta Gunadi, spokesman for state toll road operator PT Jasa Marga confirmed that the traffic flow from Cawang to Semanggi remained heavy at 12 p.m. “We cannot predict when the congestion on the Cawang–Semanggi toll road will reach its peak. These days, gridlock occurs after midday or even later,” he said.
Arif Rahman, a resident of Tanjung Barat, South Jakarta, said that he left for work late on purpose.
“I arranged a meeting at 1 p.m. so I could have more time to sleep after staying up late watching the soccer game. But I arrived late anyway because the toll road was congested even after 11 a.m.,” the freelance photographer said.
Just like Arif, many Jakartans are now following the Euro 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine closely through live broadcasts.
Unlike the last championship in 2008 where fans could only watch their favorite teams through subscription TV or in taped matches aired by local TV stations, the preliminary rounds are currently being aired live by RCTI.
Since the opening last Friday, soccer fans have enjoyed two matches every night, one aired at 10:45 p.m. and the second at 1:45 a.m.
As a die-hard soccer fan, Arif is happy to stay up late to watch the games.
“I cannot start work or have meetings early in the morning because I am practically glued to my television during the night,” he said.
Arif said that he tried not to miss any games, because “every match is great”. He said that he had rearranged his working schedule during the soccer competition from June 8 to July 1.
Jakarta Traffic Police Directorate chief Sr. Comr. Dwi Sigit Nurmantyas said that his office saw the shifting period of traffic jams although he doubted that it would have a significant impact.
“So far, the Euro fever has only made a small change to people’s driving hours in the morning and evening ,” he said.
Another road user, Fitria Amalia, disagreed with that.
“For soccer fans who need a two- or three-hour trip to get home, driving habits have changed,” she said.
The resident of Tangerang said that she had changed her schedule to get home earlier so that she would not miss a game.