The Jakarta Post
Once they settle down, inhabitants of Greater Jakarta tend to buy cars, even though their homes often sit on small alleyways inaccessible by four-wheeled vehicles. Owning a car is a symbol of being established — successful. For Javanese people, the predominant ethnic group in Jakarta and its satellite cities, the desire to own cars perhaps comes from an old tradition that requires a “real” man to possess a horse (as a means of transportation), a wife, a weapon and a bird.
But the New Year floods provide the latest evidence that the region is not prepared to deal with the adverse impacts of its demographic burden. With more people continuing to arrive and babies continuing to be born, the already densely packed Greater Jakarta continues to grapple with its well-established urban problems, including traffic, pollution, waste and flooding.
In an apparent effort to keep the proliferation of cars in check, the government of Depok, south of Jakarta, has enacted Bylaw No. 2/2020 on traffic implementation. The law requires car owners in the West Java city to park their cars in a garage. Deputy Mayor Pradi Supriatna said the measure was a response to rampant complaints about on-street parking, including in residential areas, disrupting the flow of traffic across the city.
Unfortunately, the bylaw, which threatens offenders with fines up to Rp 2 million (US$146), has a long lead time. It will come into effect in two years to allow the local government to prepare guidelines and regulatory mechanisms and to familiarize citizens with the new bylaw. By 2024, the problem will have likely worsened. A similar bylaw has been in place in Jakarta since 2014, but it has remained unenforced, lacking an implementing regulation. In 2017, then-governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat promised to draft a decree to implement the regulation, but the plan never materialized.
The current Jakarta government, too, seems to be making little effort to put the regulation into effect. Head of the city transportation agency Syafrin Liputo said earlier this week that the government would need to talk to the people of Jakarta and find solutions before it could implement the regulation.
According to the 2014 bylaw, car owners, individuals and corporate bodies may not park along the street. Car owners must prove to the Traffic Police Directorate that they have garages when applying for vehicle ownership documents.
The bylaw, if enforced, will force city residents to think twice before buying cars. The disincentive is unavoidable given the fact that vehicle growth has far outpaced road extension. Worse, the rise in the number of vehicles will exacerbate the city’s already severe air pollution. Vehicle emissions account for about 70 percent of Jakarta’s air pollution.
A good policy always offers solutions that will encourage people to follow it, rather than resist it. In the past, the
Jakarta administration has discussed the possibility of providing collective garages for car owners who can not
afford to build garages at home. For the short term, the no-street-parking rule may clear the roads of parked cars, but Jakarta and other big cities will need a better, longer-lasting policy.