The Jakarta Post
As Jakarta's Car Free Day (CFD), which closes off the capital's main roads in Central Jakarta to vehicles on Sunday mornings, grows more popular, not only are hordes of Jakartans flocking to the streets but so are a long line of commercial brands.
Tens of thousands of residents from across the capital come to the center of the city on Sunday mornings to jog, bike, walk their dogs or simply to just enjoy the capital's wide and tree-lined streets that are usually packed with private vehicles on weekdays, making CFD one of the most popular Sunday activities in the city.
A local police officer estimated that at least 100,000 people gathered between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Sunday.
Businesses have also made good use of CFD, with dozens of brands opening booths along roads, some even erecting huge stages for promotional events.
While some people can appreciate how commercialized CFD has become, others are irked by it.
A CFD enthusiast, Lucky Palupi, said the commercial events bothered her as they usually took up a lot of space with their big stages and promotional paraphernalia.
'I've started participated in CFD three years to walk my dog Oscar. But the area between the Semanggi overpass and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle has just become too crowded due to promotional events. Now I walk in another area, between the [Indonesia Stock Exchange building] compound and Ratu Plaza [shopping center] ' it is slightly less congested there, even though I sometimes encounter motorcycles exiting buildings,' Lucky told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Lucky said that the commercial events resulted in high concentrations of people at particular points, making CFD unnecessarily hectic.
Another resident, Neni Suherni, shared a similar view.
'There are commercial stages almost at every turn. Last week there was a rally and a long march commemorating National Customers Day. I wasn't able to walk freely,' she said.
A slew of urban communities also use CFD to gather, but their meet-ups tend to be smaller while commercial entities usually mobilize much larger crowds.
A group supporting disabled communities, for example, regularly holds free sign language training at the traffic circle. Students from various schools and universities ' sometimes from outside the city ' can always be found promoting events or collecting funds for their causes.
On Sunday, dozens of people from various backgrounds staged a peaceful rally at the traffic circle, protesting against the local elections bill, which is aimed at scrapping the direct election of governors, regents and mayors.
Group spokesperson Maskurudin Hafidz said the group was taking advantage of CFD to collect signatures from residents to support their petition.
Jakarta Transportation Agency head Muhammad Akbar said that all members of society ' including civil society groups and businesses ' were allowed to make use of the weekly event.
They all can hold events freely as long as they fulfill the requirements.
'They are not allowed to use generators or motorized vehicles at the event. Furthermore, they must not use any machinery or carry out any activity that may potentially produce pollution,' he said, adding that there were many other strict regulations that the event holders had to follow.
Prospective event holders are required to submit a proposal to the agency describing the details of their event, including how many people are expected to attend. Although the agency has yet to ban any events based on the number of people attending, Akbar said that the agency would not allow any events that could potentially disrupt CFD.
Akbar said that the Transportation Agency held a meeting every Tuesday with relevant institutions, including the police and the Environment Agency, to discuss and decide which events would be granted permits. (fss)