Thursday, January 18, 2007

Office hour

Office hour by Ricky Yudhistira

Kota is not only for electronics, textiles, and entertainments

'It is unfair to blame only the motorcyclists'

The Jakarta Post, Thursday, January 18, 2007

Millions of people use motorcycles to beat the traffic, but now the city administration is talking about banning motorbikes from main roads during rush hour. The Jakarta Post asked people about the idea of banning motorcycles from thoroughfares, and whether such a move was fair considering the administration has not offered motorcyclists any alternatives.

Cepi Setiadi, is a journalist who works in South Jakarta:

I can see the impact of the decision to relegate motorcycles to the left lane. Motorcyclists are now more careful on the streets. This is a good development and needs to be maintained. Though it slows motorcyclists a bit, that's not really a big problem as long as it reduces the risk of traffic accidents in the city and creates a culture of discipline among motorcyclists.

However, banning motorcyclists from main roads during peak hours is unrealistic. Main roads such as JL. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman are vital for thousands of middle-class workers, many of whom use motorcycles. The city government should first provide affordable public transportation before banning motorcyclists from the area.

Motorcycles are right now the best and cheapest way to get around in the city. I think this plan is too discriminative against motorcyclists. Why don't they ban cars as well? This also shows that the government's three-in-one program is not working, so they are just trying to look for a scapegoat. It is unfair to blame only the motorcyclists.

Rahman Dako, works at a non-governmental organization. He lives in Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta.
Banning motorcycles from main streets during peak hours would only create another problem. These are people who make a living by using the city's roads; they aren't out there for fun. If the government bans them, they need to provide them alternatives. The busway might be one alternative, but the fare is getting higher and higher.

This shows the inconsistency of government policy. In my opinion, motorcyclists have the right to use main roads. In developed countries even bicycles have their own lane. I think the root of the problem is the government's attitude, rather than the attitude of the people.

Why doesn't the city government ban cars or at least limit the number of cars manufactured here or imported.

-The Jakarta Post-

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

'People ride bikes because it's cheaper'

The Jakarta Post, January 17, 2007

The Jakarta Police have claimed that relegating motorcycles to the slow lane has reduced the risk of traffic accidents in the city. The Jakarta Post asked some people what they thought about the issue.

Diman K Simanjuntak, 31, works for a non-governmental organization in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. He lives in Depok:

As far as I can gather from the news, the implementation of the keep-left rule has significantly reduced the number of accidents involving motorbikes in the city -- though I am also aware that the regulation conflicts with a higher law.

Regarding the plan to limit the number of motorcycles on main thoroughfares during peak hours, I think it will cost motorists more and not solve the problem. It must be remembered that the transportation systems of developed and developing countries are inherently different.

Road rules in developed country only allow certain vehicles on certain roads. This is only possible if the infrastructure is in place and the people in general are not impoverished.

If not, the poor will bear the burden of high cost transportation because they have to pay more for fuel. The government must realize that people get around on motorcycles because it is cheaper -- not because it's more fun. In bringing in new road rules, the government must calculate the cost for the people.

Furthermore, motorcycles are not the only source of traffic woes here. The city needs to put greater emphasis on law enforcement and less on improving the public transportation system.

For example, rather than banning motorcycles on certain roads during peak hours, the government could enforce the law requiring buses to stop only at designated passenger stops. This would also mean that more bus stops were needed.

That might be the hardest part of the effort but it is fundamental, because people can easily bribe their way out of a situation. For the wealthy, a Rp 50,000 bribe is peanuts.

Yoyarib Mau works for a media company in Salemba, Central Jakarta. He lives in the area:
It seems to me that these regulation were made to discourage people from using motorcycles and get them to use public transportation, which is not always reliable -- or even affordable. It is clear the government is siding with businesses and not with people.

Motorcycles are not the only cause of traffic jams. Tens of thousands of cars are also on the road on any given day.

There should be a regulation limiting the number of cars imported or produced in Indonesia and also the number of cars owned by a family. Do not just make the three-in-one regulation, which, for me, does not address the problem.

Also the government needs to enforce the regulation on emissions tests, not only to reduce air pollution but also to limit the number of cars in the city.

-The Jakarta Post

City workers prepare for bird culls

The Jakarta Post, Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Bogor

City officials have begun mapping poultry populations in Jakarta before they enforce a central government ban on all domesticated birds in residential areas.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo said officials were focusing on neighborhoods where people had caught the H5N1 virus and those where birds were thought to be infected.

"The fowls from these neighborhoods will all be slaughtered," Fauzi told the Detikcom newsportal.

Adnan Ahmad, the deputy head of the city fisheries and animal husbandry agency, confirmed officials had begun the mapping work.

"Today (Tuesday) we are carrying out mapping in several areas in East and West Jakarta," he said.

Earlier Monday, Governor Sutiyoso called on city residents to voluntarily slaughter all backyard fowls -- especially chickens, ducks and pigeons -- to curb the spread of bird flu.

Sutiyoso's statement followed an announcement by Vice President Jusuf Kalla that the central government planned eventually enforce a total ban on all poultry in residential areas nationwide.

Four people have died of bird flu in Jakarta during the past week, pushing up the country's death toll from the virus to 61. Most of the victims were believed to have had contact with infected birds.

City officials have promised to compensate private and commercial poultry owners for all birds they cull, and are waiting for an central government ordinance permitting them to carry out the work.

Sutiyoso has also promised to issue a decree to legalize the culls.

However, officials in the neighboring municipality of Bogor are protesting the plan as unrealistic and too expensive.

Herlien Krisnaningsih from the Bogor Agribusiness Agency said the central government's plan was an emotional, knee-jerk reaction.

"We are not ready yet to carry out the central government's call because it will be extremely costly, and we believe it will discourage officers in the field who are struggling to prevent the virus from spreading."

She said the administration would continue to combat bird flu in the city by educating people about its dangers, carrying out poultry vaccinations and relocating poultry farms away from populated areas.

The city had already spent about Rp 340 million (US$37,331) on stopping the spread of the virus, Herlien said.

"We are trying hard to prevent bird flu here but the statements made by ministers in Jakarta yesterday really discouraged our people who work hard in the field."

Herlien said she had not received any instructions to carry out the culls from the central government.

"There are some 1.3 million birds in the city area. If the compensation to be paid out is Rp 12,000 for each fowl, it means we will need about Rp 16 billion to annihilate them all," she said.

A city councillor, Teguh Riyanto, said the government's plan would hurt poultry farmers.

"But we'd better not panic because this will also affect the poultry business. We don't want all the chickens in this country slaughtered and replaced by imported fowls," he said.(02)

Muara Angke Revisited #2

Muara Angke Revisited #1

Victims of Muara Angke fire

Even wild geese have their own nests, says squatter victim of N.Jakarta fire

City News - January 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration and community leaders are fighting over who should distribute aid to the victims of a fire that destroyed hundreds of squatter houses in Muara Angke, North Jakarta, the residents say.

As of Sunday, distribution of aid to the victims, who are mostly fisherfolk, was still slow despite the presence of disaster relief posts erected by political parties and religious organizations in the area.

Community leader Safei said residents had received some food, clothes, medicine and tents to live in from private companies, religious organizations and individual donors.

The local Red Cross had distributed 500 packet meals every meal time since Saturday, he said.

"We immediately distributed the aid given directly to us but most of the early aid (we received) is still being guarded by the local administration," he told The Jakarta Post.

The Post observed Sunday that boxes of food were being stored in a nearby warehouse and guarded by police.

A resident who preferred to remain anonymous said there was a dispute between administration officials and community leaders over who should distribute the aid.

"Before, they never even acknowledged us as a legal community, now that there has been a disaster, they think they have the right to organize the distribution of aid to us. We don't need them. What we need is help," he said.

Safei's deputy, Sujono, said many people claiming to represent government institutions had visited the fire victims "to ask what we need but so far they have not returned".

"Some political parties have even put up banners here, but none of them have ever done anything to help," he added.

Safei and Sujono said 999 people from 349 families were affected by the fire. They are sheltering in 42 tents.

"The authority says we are illegal residents, and we never knew the exact number of people living here. We know that many people have gone to their relatives' houses or hometowns after the fire," Safei said.

Some residents said the administration had issued them with identity cards bearing the addresses of official subdistricts nearby.

A fire in the area broke out at about 12 a.m. on Saturday, but the ruins were still smoldering at 2 p.m a day later.

Firefighters suspected the blaze was caused by an explosion from a broken kerosene stove, while some residents believed it was caused by an electrical short circuit.

"We will never know what actually happened, because most of us were sleeping at the time. We were only aware of the fire when two houses had caught fire," a resident, Umayah, said.

Her family only had enough time to grab some clothes, she said.

The community's fishermen work for several boat owners who pay them Rp 12,000 (US$1.30) a day in addition to the money they get from fish sales.

On good days, fishermen can bring home up to Rp 50,000 a day, a member of the community, Wawan, said.

Most of the families had been living in the area since the 1980s.

"We make a living from the sea and hope the government does not evict us from here ... Even wild geese have their own nests," Umayah said .(02)