Imagine you woke up late in the morning, then rushed yourself to go to school or your office. Unfortunately for you, you woke up at the ‘rush hour’. If you take public transport, you’ll likely be late and so you decide to take your own vehicle. Once you hit the road, you find yourself trapped in traffic. It’s very annoying, isn’t it?
Traffic jams are a disturbing thing you’ll likely find in the morning and afternoon. People are going to their work or study destination and most of them start at around 7 – 8 am. People call this time period ‘rush hour’ because people are rushing on the way to their destination to avoid being late. Unfortunately, this causes traffic problems since there is more than one person who is thinking that way.
In Indonesia, rush hour starts at around 6 – 7am. Most formal workplaces and schools start their activity at 7am. There are even some schools which start their first class at 6.45am. To avoid this, people often wake up earlier, usually at 4.30 – 5am.
Traffic jams are caused by various factors depending on the country. Some countries might have different problems from others. In Indonesia, there are several reasons why traffic jams become a usual thing in the morning. In this article, I’ll be basing the Indonesian traffic jams on the ones from my hometown, Malang City. Although it can’t cover the whole traffic jam situation in Indonesia, most of the city has similar problems.
1) Too many private vehicles
Private vehicles are one of the means of transportation which are very comfortable because you have it for your own personal use. You can do whatever you want to it. You also can go anywhere you wish. To sum up, it’ll be very comfortable for you if you have your own vehicle.
Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who has the same mentality. Once a lot of people start affording private vehicles, whether it’s a four-wheel-vehicle or two-wheel-vehicle, private vehicles fill the road and eventually it’ll be overloaded as a result.
Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) states that the population of Malang City in 2019 according to the results of the 2010 population census projection 870,682 inhabitants. With an area of 110.06 km2, Malang is the second most populous city in East Java after Surabaya. This population density also affects the demand for road facilities. In 2017, the road facilities recorded in Malang City were 1,221.29 km. If calculated, the ratio of roads to the total population is 713, meaning that every 1 km of the road in Malang serves 713 residents. This figure informs the level of road use in Malang City, although it does not yet reflect the density of the road because it has not yet taken into account the weight of the different types of vehicles.
This condition is getting worse with the freeway which connects a lot of cities, including Surabaya, the most crowded city in East Java. Malang has a lot of important places for education and tourism. These attract a lot of local tourism and students from outside the city and as the result, the street would be extremely crowded.
Malang city is also out of space to build or expand the street. Although the city has two flyovers, these are still unable to hold the massive amount of private vehicles. On some sites such as Pasar Besar (The central market in Malang City), there are some street vendors selling their goods on the side of the street. This circumstance makes the street become narrower than it has to be.
2) Easy access to have a driver license
It’s easy to get a driver license in Indonesia. You can get it by doing an administrative registration. After that, you need to pass the health and mental examination, thus they’re quite easy to pass. Then, you have to do the theory and practice examination. After you pass all the tests, you’ll get your driver license and it will be valid for five years.
At first it sounds normal to do some tests. However, the easy part is on the way you extend the license. You only have to go to the place where you are tested with the same documents you brought when you were tested plus your own license a day before the due date.
If you want to get it really fast and easy, you could “pay” someone. This is a public secret and almost every Indonesian knows this. However, there will be some extra cash if you want to do it this way because this is an illegal thing to do.
3) Bad Public Transportation
People are comfy with their own private vehicle so why should people bother to go with public transportation which is really slow, in bad-shape, and often makes us late? Well, that’s the situation with public transportation in most cities in Indonesia, including Malang City.
Public transportation in Indonesia has been a problem for a long time. In the Independence era, private vehicles were only for the high-ranking society such as noblemen/women, mayors, people who worked in the capital city, and rich entrepreneurs. At that time, people mostly used trains and buses for transportation. The amount of those with their own vehicles were not as high as today. At the New Order Era (Orde Baru), Indonesia was getting prosperous. As a result, middle-class society could afford vehicles, although it was typically only a motorbike. At this time, people still preferred public transportation to commute from one place to another. In the current Reformation Era, almost everyone can afford a motorbike. The price is affordable and if it’s not, you can own it with credit.
On the other hand, public transportation is not improving. They still use the old system and sometimes don’t expand their route to make people commute easily. Public transportation drivers also have a bad salary which isn’t encouraging. They need a lot of people on their vehicle to make money. So, if a driver thinks that the people in his vehicle are not good enough for him, he won’t bother to go. This system makes people often arrive late to their destination. Thus making public transportation become less popular.
In short, traffic jams have become a problem for the local government for years. There should be a better policy to regulate the amount of private vehicles. It’s going to be hard to build or expand the roads since the lot isn’t spacious enough to do that. Public transportation also needs to be improved, both the system and infrastructure in order to make people comfortable while commuting.