Wed, 21 May 2003

Police move to ease congestion

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In an effort to ease traffic congestion on city streets, the police said on Tuesday that they were determined to take sterner action against traffic violators in 10 trouble spots around the city that are prone to lengthy tie-ups.

"Stricter measures, which will be backed up by the City's Transportation Agency and the Public Order Agency, will be taken to ease traffic congestion in the city, as part of ongoing efforts to cope with transportation problems in the city," said Jakarta Police chief of the traffic division Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Ishak.

Action to be taken against violators, Sulistyo said, would range from simple reprimands to ticketing.

Sulistyo said police would also deploy more personnel to enforce traffic regulations around the city.

He said that police handed out an average of 18,000 tickets for traffic offenses each month.

In addition to the 10 areas prone to traffic jams, Sulistyo said that City Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanagara had ordered all police stations in the capital to tackle at least one spot that was prone to heavy traffic in each of their jurisdictions.

The Jakarta Police, whose authority covers the Greater Jakarta area of Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok, has 90 police stations.

Sulistyo said that in most cases the presence of police officers in congested areas was effective in easing traffic buildup.

At the exit of the Blok M bus terminal, only two public buses can get through every green light as many drivers slow down to pick up more passengers.

"But we've noticed that after we have stationed police officers there that we can increase the amount of traffic getting through the light to 15 buses," said Sulistyo's deputy chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ghufron.

The presence of police officers has also reduced the number of passengers crowding the exit ramp, forcing them to board buses inside the terminal because the buses are not slowing down when they exit the terminal, Ghufron said.

Besides alleviating traffic problems in the city, Ghufron said the measures were also aimed at reducing traffic accidents.

"Many bus drivers who slow down to pick up more passengers, need to make up for that lost time by driving faster to keep within their time schedule. Otherwise, they are subject to penalties. That's why they are also prone to having traffic accidents," said Ghufron.

Jakarta has become well known for its traffic jams ever since the growing number of vehicles operating in the city far exceeded the streets' capacity.

Police reported that the number of vehicles driving in the city grows 5 percent annually. By the end of last year, there were more than 4.7 million vehicles registered with the city police, not to mention the intercity buses and other private vehicles from out of town using the city's roads.

Ideally, a large city such as Jakarta should have a road infrastructure covering at least 15 percent of its total area. Jakarta's network of roads covers 6.5 percent of the city's total area, amounting to more than 7,500 kilometers of road.

This limited road infrastructure is also overwhelmingly burdened with Jakarta's dense population, which at night amounts to more than 11.1 million people, while during the day, there is more than 18 million people in the capital.

10 spots prone to traffic jams

* Asean secretariat intersection, South Jakarta * UKI intersection, Cawang, East Jakarta * Kebon Jeruk toll road gate, West Jakarta * Grogol intersection, West Jakarta * Jl. Sudirman, in front of the Atmajaya University, South Jakarta * Pasar Jumat intersection, South Jakarta * Pasar Minggu intersection, South Jakarta * Slipi intersection, West Jakarta * The vicinity of the Blok M bus terminal, South Jakarta * Sudirman Central Business District T-junction, South Jakarta