One is often asked by visitors to Jakarta, “How do you tolerate the traffic jams?” It’s a fair question. The typical answer is that we all cope, somehow. In its pervasiveness and persistence, macet is the ultimate democracy-everyone is pretty much equally inconvenienced whether in a Toyota or a Rolls Royce. In my case it is worth it to buy a luxury car in Indonesia, as you might spend most of your time stuck in your car because of traffic. Well, I prefer to get stuck in a Rolls Royce rather than in a Toyota.
The current Jakarta government seems, finally, to be taking some real steps to confront the issue with the construction of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. Other moves are being taken, such as the resurrection of the Jakarta monorail project firm. The monorail project still faces challenges-yet given the scope of the traffic problem, it seems a shame not to pursue every option to help ease the macet.
Bangkok used to hold the mantle of Asia’s worse traffic jams but today, due to a relatively efficient elevated system, the jams have been significantly reduced. One can look into the future and hope that Jakarta will follow the path of Bangkok. Bad traffic is more than just a headache-it can have a measurable effect in cutting the productivity of a city, and even a country. Just imagine in logistic scenario, with current bad traffic condition we can only deliver goods one time per day, whereas in clear traffic it is possible to deliver goods up to 2-4 time per day. As Jakarta contributes a significant portion of the national economy, macet can have a damaging effect on national economic growth as well as the environment. We can only hope that the government can deal with the situation as soon as possible.