Soapbox: publisher's perspective |

Freedom – From Noise and Polution!

Soapbox: Publisher's Perspective | 31 July 2019

As we celebrate the marvellous 74th birthday of Indonesia on 17 August, we also celebrate the continuation of democracy and the re-election of our popular President ‘Jokowi’. All reasons to raise our glasses, raise our aspirations and raise our expectations for the future!

A portrait of Alistair Speirs

But there are also many things we have to lower! We desperately need to lower the air pollution, which is mostly caused by – us! Yes folks, every time we get in a car or motorcycle or send a truck on a journey from our factories we cause pollution. And we have not started the painful process of withdrawal from the pleasure of transport independence. But we have to. 

The process is simple. Buy enough buses to fit everyone in them (no, we do not nearly have enough yet) and severely restrict car and motorcycle access. But you have to get the public transport in place first otherwise no one will be able to get to work.

Now, according to press reports, Jakarta underspent its budget for 2018 by USD 800 million, which by my rough calculation will allow them to buy and operate about 10,000 extra buses, with an approximate capacity of about 500,000 people (per hour), allowing us to take at least 400,000 motorcycles and 100,000 cars off the road, possibly more if used efficiently.

I can tell you (without a USD 1M research grant) that this will ease congestion by a major factor. If well-planned and operated, that number could double and we will have traffic jam-free streets in one year or less! So, city government, get your cheque books out now, and buy buses!

If you combine that with a well-planned, one way system for the tiny back roads (jalan tikus) in South Jakarta and other areas you can change people’s lives in a very short time. More time in the office AND more time at home. Bliss.

Now onto the noise factor. Again, it’s simple: when the police are checking motorcycle licenses (razia) just get them to confiscate immediately anyone with a bike over the regulation noise limit! They are a plague on society roaming through residential areas without a care in world, wakening the sleeping, annoying the peaceful and terrifying the very young. That is enough. We are ready to start a ‘NOISE FREE JAKARTA’ campaign, which aims to bring Jakarta back to a peaceful city, without the horrors of pile driving construction by night, or roaring trucks by day. We are entitled—by law—to peace and quiet, so let’s enforce that law and sleep soundly again. Who is with me?!