Jakarta. The Indonesian government has called on private companies to get more involved in developing public transportation system to lend a hand to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's drive for infrastructure development.
Bambang Prihantono, the head of the Greater Jakarta Transportation Agency (BPTJ), delivered the message repeatedly during the 2017 Indonesianisme Summit in Jakarta on Saturday (09/12).
"We've been urging the private sector to join us to provide better public transportation services," he said. "It's time for the private sector to get involved in public policy," he added.
Bambang said allowing private companies to partner with the government in providing public transportation services does not mean selling state assets.
The companies will only be allowed to operate certain assets, including roads and railways.
"We're not going to sell off state assets. Private companies will operate, not own, them. There has been a misperception that the Transportation Minister is selling off this country's assets. That is wrong," he said.
BPTJ, whose duty is to oversee public transportation in Jakarta and its satellite cities Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, is part of the Transportation Ministry.
The summit was also attended by top executives from high-profile companies such as car distributor Astra International, state-owned aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia and state-owned weapons manufacturer Pindad.
The 2017 Indonesianisme Summit was organized to urge the government to pay more attention to the country's strategic industrial sectors, including technology, manufacturing and infrastructure.
More Technology to Come
The Indonesian government has promised more integrated public transportation systems equipped with the latest technology to make travels in public transportation easier and more comfortable, so that people will leave their private vehicles at home and take public transport to work instead.
Public transport use in the capital Jakarta is stunningly low, with only 20 percent of its 10 million plus population using public transport to commute to and from work.
It is hardly a surprise that traffic in the city is considered one of the worst in the world, reportedly causing economic losses of up to Rp 100 trillion ($7.4 billion) each year.
Jakartans are still getting used to using new technology on the road. They have just started paying their toll road fees using an e-card that they have to tap on the gate, ironically causing even longer lines at toll gates.
A few months ago, most people still preferred to pay with cash.
BPTJ plans to make the process more efficient as soon as possible.
"Currently it also takes weeks to clear the e-payment with banks. But we've coordinated with Bank Indonesia to try to do this faster. In the future, we will make the system more integrated and more effective," Bambang said.
"Soon people won't need to tap their e-card anymore — tapping is just temporary. We want to use the best technology to make things easier for everyone," he added.