Jakarta fit as ‘the center of everything’
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Scrub up: Volunteers participate in a"Cleaning Project" event in the Old Town area, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday. The event was organized to increase Jakartans' awareness of the city's culture. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
Amid all the on-again, off-again nationwide debate of moving Indonesia’s capital to somewhere far from Jakarta, a Singaporean urban-planning expert says that the capital is still very capable of serving as “the center of everything” in Indonesia.
Singapore’s Center for Livable Cities deputy executive director, Cheng Hsing Yao, said on Sunday that Jakarta’s numerous functions, including as a center of government, industry, trade and education should not be seen as an obstacle to the city’s development.
“Instead, it must be seen as a wonderful opportunity to put these [functions] together in a way that they benefit one another,” he said, citing as an example thorough and well-planned cooperation between academics and heads of industry in terms of research and development.
“Many huge cities in the world, like London, New York and Singapore, also contain various functions and yet they still flourish. Jakarta must take an example from them,” he added.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the third biennial World Cities Summit, held from July 1 to 4 in Singapore.
According to Cheng, severe traffic congestion in Jakarta is not the result of the city being “many things at once”. “Rather, I believe it’s simply due to poor planning and poor implementation.”
Numerous Indonesian experts and also the public at large have been involved in debates over the decades as to whether or not the nation’s capital city should be moved to another location.
Most of the time, this view is based on the argument that Jakarta is not well-planned spatially to be developed as a thriving metropolitan area, resulting in severe overcrowding and traffic congestion.
Cheng said that what Jakarta needed most right now was an integrated and holistic urban solution for the multifaceted problems it has faced over the years, including the lack of a mass-transportation system, an ever-
increasing population, air and water pollution, as well as poor waste management.
“Challenges often come all at once and so we need to deal with them all at once, too. What [Jakarta] needs is an integrated and long-term master plan: Make a list of all the problems and the opportunities and then think of solutions that can immediately solve two or three of the problems,” he said.
Based on the theme of “Livable and Sustainable Cities — Integrated Urban Solutions”, this year’s World Cities Summit is expected to share new insights and trends regarding urbanization challenges the world over.
More than 100 mayors, governors, ministers and government officials from around the world are scheduled to attend the four-day event, including former New Zealand prime minister and current United Nations Development Program administrator, Helen Clark.
“With urbanization taking place on an unprecedented scale, there is an urgent need to find creative solutions for more sustainable and livable cities,” said Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority CEO, Ng Lang.
“There is now the realization that there are vast benefits to be gained from adopting a more holistic and integrated approach to city planning and management,” he added.