Traffic police officers hold a banner reminding motorists about the return of odd-even traffic rule at the Hotel Indonesia Circle in Jakarta on Sunday. (Beritasatu Photo/Joanito de Saojao)

Questions Arise over Odd-Even Traffic Rule Re-Imposition During Pandemic


AUGUST 04, 2020

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has decided to re-impose the odd-even traffic restriction policy as an "emergency brake" to curb the spread of coronavirus particularly in offices and the returning high traffic volume. Unfortunately, the untimely return of the traffic rule has raised many eyebrows.

Greater Jakarta Ombudsman Head Teguh P. Nugroho feared that re-imposing the policy hastily can trigger new infection clusters on public transports, contrary to the fundamental reasoning behind the decision. 

The risk of increasing infection on public transports will go even higher if the city government proceeds with the plan to expand the restriction to 24 hours and on motorbikes which have been the go-to vehicle for most many workers.

According to Teguh, employees will most likely shift to commuter line trains and thus are more exposed to both the morning and evening rush-hour crowds. The government should have kept an eye on offices that refuse to limit employee attendance to 50 percent instead.

"What should have been done is limiting the number of commuters going to and from Jakarta. This is only possible if the provincial government imposes a strict restriction on the number of employees working at the office," Teguh was quoted by Antara news agency on Monday. 

Another issue is the short time intervals in the government's two-shift system (7.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.). The two-hour difference has sent people off to work at a time similar to prior the shifting.

Teguh said companies can instead implement two shifts that have a much longer time interval.

The first wave of employees can clock in at 7.00 a.m. and out at 2.00 p.m. The others can start working at 11.00 am and go home at 6.00 p.m. Employees can make up for the shorter working hours by having a six-day workweek, Teguh said.

Not Quite Right

Transportation policy analyst Azas Tigor said that the traffic restriction is a strategy issued in pre-pandemic times which would have been unsuitable if implemented in the current condition.

"There is no correlation between curbing the pandemic and the odd-even policy. The policy is only to control the use of private vehicles and not to restrict people's mobility in Jakarta," Azas told Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu.

According to Azas, the imbalance of supply and demand on public transport in Jakarta and its satellite cities trigger the high traffic congestion. The number of passengers exceeds the amount of public transport available.

People consider that personal vehicles a much safer option in comparison to the jam-packed public transport. Many companies are also still running at full capacity, he said.

No Unnecessary Trips

Jakarta Transportation Department Head Syafrin Liputo defended that the traffic rule can prevent people from making unnecessary trips. For instance, on even-numbered dates, people with odd-numbered license plates have to stay at home to work.

"Without the restriction, people can still meet their friends despite work-from-home orders. They can still report their task to the office while being on the move," Syafrin said at the Jakarta City Hall on Monday.

Effective since Monday, the traffic police will focus on educating the odd-even policy for the first three days. Any non-compliant vehicle will only be stopped and receive a verbal warning.