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Jakarta Post

Pedestrians, motorcyclists and vendors do battle over sidewalks

  • Callistasia Anggun Wijaya
    Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 14, 2016   /  07:48 pm
Pedestrians, motorcyclists and vendors do battle over sidewalks The sidewalks in Tanah Abang, Centaral Jakarta, being invaded by street vendors and ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers. Pedestrians are often forced to walk on the road. (thejakartapost.com/Callistasia Anggun Wijaya)

A recent action by Alfini Lestati, who blocked motorcycle riders as they attempted to drive on the sidewalk of Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta, attracted widespread praise because the rampant invasion of pedestrian areas by motorists has for a long time bothered many pedestrians. And, of course, everyone is affected because all of us are pedestrians.

Pedestrians have long struggled to take back their rights, but their efforts have not been successful. Not only have unruly motorcyclists bothered them, but also street vendors who have long occupied the sidewalks, and most recently drivers of app-based motorcycle taxis, who often park their vehicles in areas originally dedicated to pedestrians.

Pedestrians are not only concerned about the unruly actions of fellow residents. They hope that the Jakarta city administration will pay serious attention to the poor condition of sidewalks across the city. Repair projects, residents have said, should not only focus on the main city thoroughfares like Jl. MH Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman.

This movement does not solely consist of Alfini, who was bothered by the invasion on to sidewalks. Many other have expressed hope that the city authorities will soon fix the problem. Ida Ayu Tita, another pedestrian, said she was often angered when walking from FX Sudirman mall to her office in Graha CIMB Niaga, South Jakarta.

Once, when walking along a sidewalk in Senayan, a number of motorcyclists rode past her on the sidewalk and she almost got hit several times. "It's more than once that I've screamed on the street to scold motorcyclists. I tell them not to travel on sidewalks as they are made for pedestrians," Ida told thejakartapost.com.

The pedestrians who use narrow roads like those in Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta face even worse conditions. Many street vendors occupy sidewalks and fill paths with various goods laid out on a tarpaulin.

Although the city has tried to expel them, many vendors keep returning to do business. Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama says street vendors are having a “Tom and Jerry” fight with Public Order Agency officers.

"Pedestrian should be comfortable. But when I walk from Tanah Abang station, I always face street vendors who keep offering their goods and ojek (motorcycle) taxi drivers, offering their services," said Fransisca, a regular user of the commuter line.

Alfini daringly blocks a group of motorcycles attempting to avoid traffic by using the sidewalk on Jl. Sudirman in Jakarta on Monday. She took action to protest against unruly motorists. The Jakarta Post/ Dhoni Setiawan (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

Meanwhile, walking along sidewalks in Palmerah is not only obstructed by street vendors, but also by poor pavement conditions. On one sidewalk near Palmerah market, for example, residents have marked several holes in the sidewalk with planks of wood and other items to help pedestrians avoid stepping into them.

Separately, Jakarta Police traffic directorate chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budiyanto said the police would monitor motorcycles caught violating regulations by using sidewalks, and charge them with the maximum fine of Rp 500,000 (US$37.50). He claimed, however, that the number of such offenders was insignificant.

“We don’t know the number of motorists that use sidewalks [but] the number is insignificant,” Budiyanto told thejakartapost.com on Friday.

To be fair, Bina Marga (roads) Agency has started to do something to reinstate pedestrian rights, but it seems that Jakartans will need to be patient while they wait for a concrete result.

Meanwhile, on sidewalk repairs, the city administration has promised to finish the renovation of 48 sidewalks across the capital this year, including projects in Abang, Blok M, Rawamangun, Pluit, Daan Mogot and Caringin-Tomang.

The sidewalk repair projects are part of the integration of the public transportation systems, said Bina Marga head Yusmada Faizal said.

"For example, the sidewalks connecting Tanah Abang and other areas will be renovated, while similar projects will be implemented near the Rawamangun bus terminal,” Yusmada said.

The funding for renovating sidewalks has been allocated in the 2016 city budget. “The cost of renovating 48 sections of sidewalk may reach Rp 250 billion [US$18.76 million],” Yusmada said, saying that all projects would hopefully be finished by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Bina Marga offices in all five municipalities across the capital will fix sidewalks in 42 districts. The repairs will focus on commercial areas and important public facilities such as schools, hospitals, malls, bus stops and train stations.

Pedestrian Coalition chairman Alfred Sitorus said that when carrying out renovations the city administration needed to coordinate with companies like state-owned electricity company PLN that regularly installed cable under sidewalks.

“The renovations should be integrated into the companies’ installation plans so that sidewalks are not torn up again after the renovations are finished,” said Alfred, adding that property owners along the relevant sidewalks should also be involved in the design process.

He also stressed the need for the city administration to make all sidewalks across the city accessible to people with a disability.

A new design for Jl. Sudirman-Jl. MH Thamrin, by Bandung Institute of Technology's Industrial and Research Affiliation Institution (LAPI-ITB). The existing sidewalks in the Sudirman-Thamrin area will be expanded to 8 to 10 meters wide.(thejakartapost.com/Callistasia Anggun Wijaya)

Meanwhile, Riri Asnita, head of Bina Marga Agency's planning division, said that renovation projects on the sidewalks on Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman were important for anticipating the increasing number of public transportation users, particularly after the launch of the MRT.

“The existing sidewalks won’t be able to accommodate thousands of pedestrians,” Riri said.

Governor Ahok set a deadline for the renovation of sidewalks in the area to be finished before Jakarta hosts the Asian Games in 2018. The project includes the widening of sidewalks from the existing 5 meters, out to 8 or 10 meters. This is possible because the administration will turn the slow lanes on the two roads into sidewalks.

Ahok plans to kick off this project sometime this year. "This year, at least we'll begin renovations [...] from the National Monument (Monas) to Bundaran HI," Ahok said on Friday.

Jakartans can certainly be proud of having good sidewalks on the two main thoroughfares, but it is certainly still not enough because there are many more sidewalks in poor condition that are waiting for more attention from the city administration. (bbn)

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