Jakarta enforces odd-even traffic policy to counter jams

Officials aim to cut traffic coming into the city by 25 percent by the move.

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    Jakarta, Indonesia - Jakarta officials have introduced a rush-hour odd-even traffic control system on Jakarta-Cikampek Toll Road, the main toll road leading into the city, in order to cut traffic by 25 percent.

    The policy was implemented on Monday and the first morning saw traffic moving at 60kmph and not the snail's pace that motorists are used to.

    More than 1.3 million people commute into Indonesia's capital every day. In addition to cutting down the number of cars, officials aim to force commuters to use public transport by this move.

    Only an estimated 20 percent of people in Jakarta use buses or trains.

    A recent study done by Uber showed that Jakartans spend an average of 22 days a year stuck in traffic jams, more than any other city in Asia. 

    On odd dates, only plate numbers ending in odd numbers are allowed to enter the toll road between 6am and 9am. On even dates, it is the same for vehicles with plates ending in even numbers.

    More than 1.3 million people commute into Indonesia's capital every day [Beawiharta/Reuters]

    Drivers who violate the rule are forced to turn back and encouraged to take one of the busses the government has prepared at a nearby location.

    "I'm now forced to take the bus and I don't mind that," Gaffy, a regular commuter, said.

    "It's a nice bus and this is a good method to convince people to use public transport."

    Others, however, feel the policy is discriminatory to people living in Bekasi, so far the only suburb of Jakarta where the policy applies.

    As a spokesman for Indonesia Police Watch told local media, "the hellish traffic jams will only move elsewhere".

    Effective policy

    It is a policy that has been used inside the city with mixed results, where the government said traffic has reduced by 15 percent.

    But Tito Karnavia, the national police chief, admits the policy is not a solution to Jakarta's notorious traffic problem.

    "We have to do something than nothing. It's not a silver bullet to erase the problem."

    While the construction of Jakarta's first subway, an elevated toll road and a monorail is causing serious traffic jams, the government promises that these will reduce as soon as these projects are finished.

    The jams not only eat up a lot of time, air pollution has been on the rise and business are losing an estimated $5bn annually.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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