Fri, 23 May 2003

Cashless parking system on trial in Jakarta's streets

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The new on-street parking system, which will provide parking attendants with hand-held computers, is to be launched on May 28 on Jl. Agus Salim, Central Jakarta, an official said on Thursday, but most of the parking attendants trained specifically for the new system doubt that it will run smoothly.

Urip, a parking attendant, said that he might not have too much trouble with the high-tech gadget, but that it was the reaction of motorists that worried him and his colleagues.

"Jakarta motorists easily get angry, even when we ask them to move their cars just a bit. I can imagine how they would yell at us if we ask them to pay using prepaid cards," said the 46-year- old man, who has been working as a parking attendant since 1972.

Also, he said, the attendants would mostly deal with drivers, who he doubted would be willing to cooperate and learn about the new cashless transactions. "In the end, the drivers would probably try to pay cash instead, because they want to keep it simple," he said.

Moreover, the attendants were mostly worried about their salaries.

Derry, a parking attendant in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, said that on a busy day he could bring home up to Rp 50,000 (US$5.90) a day, or an average of about Rp 1 million every month.

"I usually give a certain amount of money to my wife every day, but with the new system, I can only give her a bundle of receipts," he said jokingly.

He hoped the authorities would set his salary at a level not much different from the income he is making now.

Yani Mulyadi, head of the city's parking agency, told reporters on Thursday that the attendants' salary had not yet been determined.

"We are considering giving them salaries based on the Provincial Minimum Wage (UMP) of Rp 640,000 (US$73.31) a month, plus transportation allowance and bonus based on the parking fees they have collected," he said.

Despite the attendants' doubts, Mulyadi said that the new system would be ready for implementation in four other areas by June 2. The agency, however, is to first observe the trial run on Jl. Agus Salim before implementing it on other streets.

The other streets targeted for the new system are: Jl. Bulevar Raya, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta; Jl. Jatinegara Timur, East Jakarta; Jl. Gajah Mada, West Jakarta; and Jl. Raden Patah, South Jakarta.

The city administration, in a joint operation with the system operator PT Adiwira Sembada, has been preparing the cashless parking system, under which motorists will use prepaid cards to pay their parking fees.

Kunto Wibisono, spokesperson for PT Adiwira Sembada, said the parking attendant would swipe the prepaid card on a modified Handspring Visor-brand personal digital assistant (PDA), and a printer attached to the palm-sized computer would print out a receipt.

The transaction data will be stored on a memory card and downloaded onto the PDA of the parking team leader, who would then enter the cumulative data into the central database, he said.

However, he said that the initial price of the prepaid card had not yet been decided.

The system is planned for eventual application all over Jakarta by the end of the year.