Thu, 10 Mar 2005

Joint master plan a must, Ali says

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former governor Ali Sadikin told the city administration on Wednesday to work with neighboring cities on a joint master plan for Greater Jakarta that would address urban woes such as overpopulation, unemployment and environmental degradation.

"Jakarta and neighboring towns desperately need to cooperate to draw up a joint master plan for Greater Jakarta, instead of each town making its own partial master plan," Ali said during a hearing with the City Council.

Ali said that in the past separate master plans drawn up by Jakarta and nearby cities led to the conversion of about 200 small lakes in Greater Jakarta into housing estates.

"Regency administrations transformed the lakes, which served as water catchment areas, into housing estates, leading to worsening flooding in the capital," he said.

Greater Jakarta includes Jakarta and its suburbs Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.

He said a joint master plan did not necessarily mean Greater Jakarta had to be placed under a single provincial administration, as has been repeatedly proposed by current Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso.

"I don't agree with the idea of putting Greater Jakarta under a single provincial administration. The most important thing is that Jakarta cooperates with its neighbors to put in place joint programs to tackle the urban problems they are facing," he said.

He said the Jakarta administration should help its "poorer" buffer towns transform themselves into self-reliant satellite cities.

"Let's say, Jakarta spares Rp 2 trillion of its hefty Rp 14 trillion budget to assist in the development of its suburbs. Jakarta should not be 'selfish,'" he said.

He said if Jakarta helped develop its suburbs into satellite cities able to fill all of the residents' housing and employment needs, people from outlying towns would no longer pour into Jakarta for work.

"For a long time, the Jakarta administration and the central government have failed to draw up comprehensive policies to boost the development of cities around the capital, thereby failing to stop residents from those cities from coming to Jakarta for jobs," he said.

Urban planner Darrundono, who gave a presentation during the hearing with the City Council, said the influx of commuters into the capital every day led to huge losses due to fuel consumption and worsening air pollution.

"We have not yet counted up the social losses we suffer as a result of the stressful commute to work, which in turn hurts productivity," Darrundono said.

He also recommended that Jakarta's suburbs be developed into "self-contained cities", as well as urging the development of an efficient mass rapid transportation system for commuters.