Mon, 27 Aug 2001

Nonpolluting 'becak'

It is with dismay that I read recently of the war that has been declared against becak (pedicab) drivers in Jakarta. Surely the becak is the most inoffensive means of public transportation on the streets of Jakarta. My dismay was compounded when within days of the article was a front-page photo highlighting pollution in Jakarta. Surely if any war is to be declared on the streets of Jakarta it should be against the culprits who contribute the most to the pollution, such as the poorly serviced, smoke-blowing buses, taxis, cars and bajaj (three-wheeled motorized vehicle).

What the city needs if the pollution problem is to be addressed is more becak, and less fuel consuming and polluting vehicles! If the rationale for driving them off the streets is because they create macet (traffic jams), then war should be declared against private cars with sole occupants that clutter the streets. Where I live there are no becak, but there is severe macet and pollution from exhaust fumes.

Becak drivers are victims, of not only poverty, but also misdirected anger.