Fri, 27 Jun 2003

'Draft bylaw won't solve transportation woes in city'

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The draft bylaw on Jakarta's transportation system, submitted by Governor Sutiyoso last week, met with strong criticism on Thursday from City Council, which said that it failed to solve the city's traffic woes.

During a plenary session to hear responses from the 11 factions on City Council, councilors pointed out that the ambitious bill does not reflect the current reality of traffic and transportation facilities in the capital.

"The draft bylaw should be able to resolve Jakarta's traffic problems, especially the congestion and unorganized traffic system," Totok Ismunandar of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said.

He told the session, which was attended by Sutiyoso, that the bill does not outline a comprehensive policy on the transportation system.

Totok added that the administration shunned the need to regulate air transportation, citing the growing trend that many companies and hotels had started renting out helicopters for business activities.

The draft bylaw, consisting of 19 chapters and 111 articles, has long been awaited to replace Bylaw No. 9, 1992 on Traffic and Land Transportation in Jakarta, which many say is outdated and no longer relevant for controlling the city's traffic.

The new bylaw is expected to provide the city with a comprehensive transportation system, which includes bus services, an MRT system, a railway network and water transportation.

The administration said that in the future, all large city buses would be integrated with the busway system, which is being developed by the administration.

Large buses will only operate on the main roads, while medium- sized buses will run on feeder routes, integrating their services with those operating the busway, while smaller public vehicles will support the medium-sized bus system.

However, the draft bylaw did not detail the controversial busway project, which is scheduled to be operational later this year.

The Indonesian Military (TNI)/National Police faction on City Council questioned why the bill did not elaborate on the busway plan.

"Moreover, the draft bylaw requires all buses to enter bus terminals. But it neglects the fact that the terminals cannot accommodate all the buses," said the faction's speaker, Dody Sudarno.

The bill also failed to provide a solution on how to deal with thugs who often threaten drivers for money at bus terminals and other shelters, he added.

The Golkar faction also criticized the bill for including a plan to promote water transportation in the capital when the city's rivers are less than 15 meters wide and there are no waterways suitable for transportation as they do not connect with other places.

Totok said the administration should explain whether it had gained the authority to manage railways and water transportation systems since they are under the control of the central government.

Golkar and other factions questioned several articles in the draft bylaw, which allow the governor to make exceptions to the regulations, saying it could encourage the abuse of legal mechanisms and corruption.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) faction queried a stipulation in the bill that fines pedestrians who do not walk on the sidewalk.

"It would be unfair if a pedestrian is locked up for three months or told to pay a Rp 5 million (US$602) fine just because he or she did not use the sidewalks, which are already crowded with street vendors and parked vehicles," PKB's Abbas Saleh Ma'mun told the session.

The draft bylaw recommends the establishment of a special agency to oversee the transportation networks, but it did not give any details on the new body.