Mon, 13 Jun 1994

Education vital to alleviating traffic-jams

JAKARTA (JP): A former police traffic director has identified community training and education as the most effective ways to ease Jakarta's traffic problems.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Untung Margono in an interview with The Jakarta Post said late last week that while the municipal authority has prepared an appropriate long term master-plan to cope with the chaotic traffic situation, a more immediate remedy can be sought by raising the public's consciousness on traffic matters.

"We must raise public awareness on traffic etiquette and the only way to do that is through education and counseling," he said.

Untung, now chairman of the Institute for Traffic and Transportation Development in Indonesia, explained that it will take a lot of time and money before the solutions contained in the master-plan could be realized.

"This is not a mere one or two-year effort," Untung warned. "It must be continuous and will take between five to 10 years before we see any results."

Untung said in order to promote discipline and awareness, members of the Institute have approached the Ministry of Education in an attempt to bring traffic learning to the schools.

Unfortunately the ministry could not accommodate the proposal due to limited time and manpower. Efforts are thus being directed through informal means such as seminars.

As Jakarta approaches its 467th anniversary on June 22, traffic has by far become the most distressing problem plaguing the city.

It has come to the point where one can no longer go a single day without hearing complaints caused by the clog of vehicles occurring at various points throughout the teeming capital city of more than 8 million people.

Untung revealed that the municipal government has set-up a comprehensive plan for an urban mass-transport system encompassing the use of elongated buses and a railway.

The vice-chairman of the Institute, police Maj. Gen. (ret.) Subianto, divulged that the municipal government favored the development of subways since they would be speedy, comfortable and not interfere with the flow of vehicles.

"The plans for a train line from Blok M to Kota for both above and below ground are already there," he said.

At this point Untung quickly intervened claiming that President Soeharto himself objected to an overhead rail line because it would ruin the surroundings.

"It would make the city look like a giant spider-web," he said.


Both Untung and Subianto agreed that the main set-back to the ambitious master-plan is the fact that there is no money.

Unless financing comes from somewhere, the current traffic situation will prevail.

"We need money and investors. In Indonesia's case we need the involvement of conglomerates, but they're not interested in traffic matters they're only interested in business," Untung lamented.

Apart from the large injection of capital, the 78-year old retired general also stressed the importance of integrated and coordinated management in the future development of the city. This is rarely done in Indonesia, Untung said.

He emphasized that planning cannot rest with just one government office, adding that consultation with the private sector must not be neglected. (mds)