Thu, 17 Jul 2003

Councillors want 'ojek', chopper in bylaw

Rizky KD Ntoma and Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As a metropolis, Jakarta has a wide range of transportation modes. Just name it: limousines, private cars, public buses, minivans, taxis, commuter trains, are all already available on city streets.

There are two modes of transportation that have not yet been included in the draft bylaw on transportation: helicopters and ojek (motorcycle or bicycle taxi).

These should also be included as a mode of transportation, according to City Council's Commission A for development affairs, as many people use the services of ojek and helicopter.

"We should include ojek as a means of transportation. In reality it is popular and the number of ojek keeps increasing," said Commission D chairman Koeswadi Soesilohardjo at the City Council's plenary session on Wednesday.

Koeswadi, who read Commission D's response to the draft bylaw, also stressed the need to regulate the use of helicopters in a separate bylaw as in reality they were also used by certain citizens.

Other means of transportation that currently exist in the city are bajaj (three-wheeled motorized pedicab) and bemo (similar with bajaj but with a larger seating capacity).

Head of the Jakarta Transportation Agency Rustam Effendi said earlier that bajaj and bemo were not environmentally friendly and therefore should not be listed as a public transportation vehicle.

What type of vehicles can be considered a recognized means of transportation is still a hot issue since the motorcycle taxi is not mentioned in Law No. 14/1999 on transportation which the bylaw should refer to.

Commission D also expressed agreement with the city administration's proposal to use rivers for transportation, hoping that it would be able to resolve serious traffic congestion in the city during peak hours.

"Rivers in Jakarta have the potential to offer an alternative means of transportation although problems might occur as they are in a poor condition," Koeswadi said.

He also said that using rivers for transportation would prompt the administration to improve the existing rivers which are dirty, shallow and narrow.

Currently, many Jakartans also use gethek (bamboo rafts) to cross rivers.

Similar comments also came from spokesman of Commission A for legal and administrative affairs Ishak Iskandar. Commission A and D are assigned by Council leaders to discuss the transportation bylaw in depth.

Previously, assistant to the city secretary for development affairs Irzal Djamal said that the administration would use a section of the Ciliwung river from Pasar Baru in Central Jakarta to Ancol in North Jakarta as a pilot project for river transportation.

But experts have said that the canals and rivers were unsuited for transportation given their poor condition.

Rustam Effendi hoped that the deliberation of the draft bylaw would be completed before the end of this year as it is expected to become the legal basis of the bus rapid transit (BRT) or busway project, scheduled to be launched in late December.

Experts said that it seemed the councillors needed more time to deliberate the bylaw due to the complexity of transportation problems in the city.