Saturday, May 19, 2007

How many officers does it take to change a light bulb?

Saturday, February 17, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

If a traffic light has been broken for a long time and there is no sign it is going to be fixed anytime soon -- even if it is just a matter of changing the bulb -- there has most likely been some confusion.

The Jakarta Police's data on the number of outdoor lighting fixtures that were left inoperative after the floods in the city early this month does not match the Jakarta Transportation Agency's, moreover it seems to fluctuate from day to day.

The city police's Traffic Management Center (TMC) reported Monday that 36 of 345 traffic lights in the capital were inoperative. On Wednesday, the figure increased to 44. It dropped to 20 Thursday, before climbing to 28 Friday.

Meanwhile, the transportation agency said Thursday only four lights were not working.

"The damaged traffic lights have created confusion at some intersections," said TMC officer Adj. Sr. Comr. Crisnanda.

He said 91 lights were not working properly in the first week after the floods, with 274 separate instances of traffic lights failing.

"Until now, we are still experiencing problems with many of the lights. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't," said Crisnanda.

In normal conditions, traffic signals might be out two or three times a day, he said.

The high number of broken lighting fixtures at present has forced police to deploy hundreds of officers to control the traffic.

"It's possible the city transportation agency just doesn't know about the real number of broken lights. We know because our officers are in the field and they report back to use every minute," Crisnanda said.

Separately, Udar Pristono, the deputy head of the city transportation agency, said the police count was too high.

"Where did they get that number? That's too many," Pristono told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"On Tuesday we had trouble with 11 traffic lights but we fixed some of them and there are only four broken ones left," he said.

The four traffic lights that are still not working are located on Jl. Joko Sutono in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta; Jl. Brawijaya in Darmawangsa, South Jakarta; Jl. Jembatan Dua, Tubagus Angke in North Jakarta; and in Ciputat, South Jakarta.

He said there were a number of reasons why traffic lights might not be working, such as an electrical short circuit, a power outage, the light's components were water damaged or a bulb was broken.

"If the problem is an electric short circuit, we can fix it in one or days, but if it's because the power is out, we have to wait for state power firm PLN to put it back on," Pristono said. (02)

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