Weekly 5: Jakarta’s epic development fails
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The Jakarta administration always has great plans to make the city a better and more interesting place to live. But the realization of those plans, somehow, seems to fall apart along the way. Here are five failed attempts recorded in the capital.
Deer, o dear
To mark Jakarta’s 476th anniversary in 2003, dozens of deer were relocated from the Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java, to the iconic National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta, despite arguments from animal experts that the timid animals could suffer from distress if they have to live in the center of the city.
Former governor Sutiyoso, who initiated the deer relocation, hoped visitors would have another thing to see during leisure time spent at Monas.
There were no reports of deer dying from stress, but as time went by, food became scarce and the water pumps that supply water to the ponds in
the park broke down, which the administration blamed on budget cuts. Despite the “no-feeding” signs around the grazing zone, residents started to feed the deer.
To make matters worse, the park was overpopulated. Ragunan Zoo officials rescued 11 deer last year as the park could only accommodate 50.
They make a monument of it
They were once used as canvases for mural artists, and now the concrete columns along Jl. Asia Afrika, Central Jakarta, and Jl. HR Rasuna Said, South Jakarta, are used as billboards for advertisement and even political candidates’ posters.
The pillars were originally built in 2004 as part of the elevated monorail project that planned to connect Tanah Abang and Kuningan with the capacity to carry 120,000 passengers per day. But the consortium of private developers failed to settle financial and legal problems surrounding the project, which led to the abandoning of construction in March 2008. The steel rods inside the abandoned concrete pillars were gradually dismantled by thieves.
The administration now plans to use around 150 columns as part of its elevated bus rapid transit (BRT) project.
Dead in the water
Surrounded by 13 rivers that cross the city, Jakarta had a dream of building a transportation system similar to that in Venice, which could help alleviate the city’s traffic congestion. In June 2007, the Sutiyoso administration launched the “water taxi”, or “waterway” — to rhyme with the elder sibling busway — in a 1.7 kilometer section of the Ciliwung River that was close to businesses and offices.
But the garbage-clogged river often broke the engines of the boats, and the stench the river produced sent passengers away, leaving the piers empty and deterioriating.
Two years after it was launched, the Rp 200-billion (US$21.2 million) project was finally terminated.
Now you see it, now you don’t
The “Bike to Work” community was skeptical when the Fauzi Bowo administration created a bike lane from Blok M to Ayodya Park in South Jakarta in May last year. They said it was nothing more than eye candy to the city’s overall transportation system. The doubt was materialized.
Cyclists have to compete with vehicles that use the lane. At first authorities impounded cars parked along the lane, but the patrolling did not last long. The bike lane is also overwhelmed by public minivans, motorcycles and bajaj, the three-wheeled taxi.
The party’s over
In September 2007, Sutiyoso inaugurated the Rp 2.5 billion (US$265,000) Monas square garden that comprises grass fields, a stone-paved grand plaza and central garden around the monument filled with colorful flowers and decorative plants. But three months later, nobody seemed to care about ruining the flower garden during the New Year’s Eve party.
Thousands of residents flocked to the area to attend the party, stepping on the grass, pulling out the flowers, and even damaging the fences encircling the garden. The rain that night worsened the damage. Now, the party has been moved to Ancol beach, North Jakarta. — JP