Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Busway project should be postponed: Activists

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists from several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a councillor and a police official who recently attended a transportation workshop in Bogota, Colombia, recommended on Monday that the city's controversial busway project should be postponed due to poor preparation.

The demand for the postponement was announced in a press conference at the conclusion of the workshop which was attended by Azas Tigor Nainggolan of the Jakarta Residents Forum, Tulus Abadi of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) and Jack Sumabrata of the Pelangi, an NGO focused on environmental issues.

The press conference was also attended by Sr. Comr. Endro Agung, the head of the traffic division at the National Police headquarters and councillor Julianson Purba of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

"We urged the administration to redesign the concept of the busway project. The project should be placed within an integrated city system," Tigor said.

He revealed that a similar busway project in Bogota was running quite well, because it was properly planned with the involvement of public in arranging the concept of the project.

He said the busway system was just one part of an integrated transportation system in Bogota which also encourages and enables non-motorized vehicle traffic, such as bicycle paths and convenient pedestrian walkways.

"The development of the busway project should not be just an isolated part, it should be part an entire organized system," Tigor recommended.

Meanwhile, Tulus of YLKI said the city's partially completed busway project would just create more transportation problems if not done properly.

"The project will not be a solution to the city's transportation problem. It will create new problems," Tulus said.

He added that the project would add to the city's traffic congestion if it was forcibly applied without repairing other parts of the transportation system.

Although he agreed with the postponement, councillor Julianson Purba still hoped that the busway project could be applied in the city.

"I hope the project can become a reality in the city and become part of the solution to the city's transportation problems," Julianson said.

The city allocated Rp 85 billion (US$9.4 million) this year for the project and has spent Rp 2.7 billion for several signs, a few bus shelters and the painting of red lanes.

Governor Sutiyoso earlier said the Rp 85 billion would not be used, but returned to the city budget if the project were postponed for further study and public dissemination.

The project, which was designed by transportation "experts" from Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University in 2000, will use the fast lane along Jl. MH. Thamrin and Jl. Jend. Sudirman, the city's main thoroughfares in Central Jakarta.

The city earlier planned to try out two buses: a Japanese-made Hino and a German-made Mercedes, to run on the route last month, but that too was postponed because the planners forgot about making the proper modifications to the buses.

According to the project design, it needs at least 50 air- conditioned buses to serve the route.

Passengers for the buses would be obliged to buy a ticket which costs about Rp 2,500 a trip.

Bus companies here earlier expressed strong opposition to the project, saying that it would reduce their income, by taking away their monopoly.