Wed, 02 Jul 2003

Traffic smooth when police work

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakarta is notorious for its chronic traffic congestion. But, it seems police can play a significant role in reducing traffic woes if they want to.

Motorists traveling from Pamulang in Tangerang to Pasar Jumat in South Jakarta, who normally face heavy traffic in Ciputat, were surprised on Tuesday when the traffic in the normally congested area ran smoothly.

Police had been deployed to ease traffic flows in Ciputat.

"The street is incredibly smooth. I can zip through the street easily thanks to the presence of more police personnel," said Bianca, a resident of Pamulang.

The roads were rerouted to provide more leeway for hundreds of guests attending the celebration of the police's 57th anniversary at Pondok Cabe police airbase nearby.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri, who led the celebrations, traveled by road to the venue.

Police said they had deployed 540 personnel to ensure traffic order in Ciputat and the surrounding areas.

"Police officers can be seen every 10 meters directing the traffic," Bianca said.

Public transportation vehicle drivers, blamed for the daily jams because they often load and unload passengers in the middle of the street, mainly abided by the traffic laws, prompting the traffic to run smoothly.

"Also, street vendors, who usually occupy many parts of the street, were not seen," said Rani, a resident of Ciputat.

Traffic gridlock is a common sight across the capital, especially during rush hours. One of the causes is the rapidly growing number of vehicles in the city, while road infrastructure has not kept pace.

Jakarta police traffic division chief Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Ishak said earlier that police were planning to ease traffic flows across the city, with every subprecinct to be assigned to handle one traffic spot in the area they oversee.

The police would also take tougher action against traffic violators by reprimanding and ticketing them, he said.

The police ticket an average 18,000 motorists per month.