Lenny Tristia Tambun, Antonny Saputra & Firdha Novialita
Joko stands by Jalan Juanda in Central Jakarta, waiting for drivers who need his service.
That service, known as jockeying, helps drivers skirt a regulation by hiring persons to ride in the vehicle to meet a minimum requirement of three persons per vehicle on designated major roads such as Jalan Majapahit or Jalan Sudirman during peak hours on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In his 40s, Joko first tried jockeying in 1997 and now does it when he’s not working in construction or in other odd jobs. Since the current version of the rule was instituted in 2004, many motorists have been hiring a “jockey” off the street for Rp 15,000 [$1.50], undermining its effectiveness at easing traffic congestion. Violating the rule means risking fines of up to Rp 1 million.
“At first, there were only dozens of jockeys here on Juanda, but now there are hundreds,” Joko said.
If the Jakarta government has its way, jockeys will have to look for other kinds of work, despite mixed feelings about eliminating the three-person-minimum rule on certain roads less than two weeks ago.
The Jakarta Transportation Agency lifted the three-occupancy rule permanently on Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk on Oct. 10, following a month-long trial that started on Sept. 10. It covered the entire lengths of the two streets, which run between Harmoni in Central Jakarta and Glodok in West Jakarta
The agency claimed that annulment of the three-in-one rule would not increase congestion on the roads. The average car’s speed, it said, has increased to 30 kilometers per hour, from as low as 21 kilometer per hour when the rule was in place.
“The traffic situation is still under control. It is just the same as it was,” said A.D. Hermawan, a police officer who was overseeing the streets on Thursday. “There was a little congestion at around 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. as all are out of office.”
The agency had banned street-side parking on Gajah Mada and Hayam Wuruk since June 2011, aiming to free up road space on the perennially congested thoroughfares. The agency said that banning street side parking will increase the two roads’ capacity by 60 percent.
Also no longer subject to the rule are Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan, which connects the two streets from Glodok to Kota in West Jakarta, and Jalan Majapahit, which links the roads at their southern ends to Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat and Jalan Abdul Muis in Central Jakarta.
Some vendors at the electronics market in Glodok in the Hayam Wuruk area have reported an increase in sales.
Sahat, a power generator vendor in Glodok, said that sales were increasing slightly because now shoppers can enter the Hayam Wuruk and Gadjah Mada area without having to take jockeys.
“Competition here is tough so even a slight amount in increase of shoppers coming here would mean a lot to us small vendors,” Sahat said. “I hope that traffic in the area would remain in order because it will benefit the shoppers as well as vendors around here.”
Jockeys typically line the streets leading up to main roads. They can be found near shopping centers, even posh ones such as Grand Indonesia and Senayan City, on roads that lead into Jalan Sudirman.
Some carry their babies with them, which technically counts as two persons.
Being a jockey isn’t a crime, but being one does not support the spirit of the government’s policy on carpooling, said Andrinof Chaniago, the executive director at the Center for Indonesian Regional and Urban Studies. Standing on the road also takes up space, and that might worsen traffic congestion, he said.
“Legally, being a jockey doesn’t break the law, but the government should bear the responsibility to land a better job for them,” he said.
Other alternatives for easing traffic are through electronic road pricing or a restriction based on car color or vehicle number, Andrinof said.
Jakarta’s traffic is notorious for causing residents to allot more time to travel from their homes to work, and vice versa, and the affordability of vehicles may entice more drivers to take to the road.
Across the country, rising incomes are helping households to make purchases on vehicles, creating a glut of new cars on a constrained network of roads. The Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo) forecasts a record one million cars to be sold this year.
At the same time the Jakarta government is also reviving a plan — scrapped in 2007 due to lack of funding — for a monorail project with three lines that could be operational in three years from start of construction.
Newly elected Jakarta governor Joko Widodo has pledged to tackle the problems of traffic congestion in the capital, with plans that include more public buses and expanded road lanes.
Transportation expert Darmaningtyas said that Joko should focus on developing the TransJakarta busway to solve Jakarta’s traffic gridlock.
“Jokowi should learn from former governor Fauzi Bowo’s mistakes in transport management by concentrating the first two years in improving the busway service,” he said on the sidelines of former Jakarta governor Wiyogo Atmodarminto’s funeral on Saturday.
He says that once Jokowi manages to improve the busway, then the governor could build other things such as monorails and a light railway transit system.
The agency had said that the three-occupant-or-more measure could be lifted in other locations if the trial on Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk were successful.
Five main roads are still affected by the rule: Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Jalan Sudirman, Jalan Thamrin, Jalan Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta, and Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta.
Additional reporting by Bayu Marhaenjati
Lenny Tristia Tambun, Antonny Saputra & Firdha Novialita