Busway dan jalan-jalan maut

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo needs to remember that in a democratic society leaders are required to accommodate the aspirations and needs of the general public who have entrusted themselves to be led by for a certain period of time.
At the same time, a leader must be able to keep campaign promises -- in the case of the governor, the promise to improve traffic conditions.
But we also want to remind the directly elected governor that it will be dangerous for the people themselves when the leader changes or softens a decision because of public outcry. It often happens the public criticism is later proven wrong and the leader was right in the first place.
After his inauguration as the successor of Sutiyoso in October last year, Fauzi looked very firm in his belief that he would go ahead with Sutiyoso's legacy, the controversial busway program. He strongly believed at that time that by making various improvements the busway system would ease the grievous traffic congestion in Jakarta.
The Jakarta governor is luckier than any other governor in Indonesia, at least in terms of budget. Jakarta's budget is so big that sometimes the local administration has a headache spending all the money while governors elsewhere complain about budget shortfalls.
Back to our subject. Let us look at the report in the Friday Jakarta Post and the announcement of the Jakarta Police Traffic Management Center (TMC) the same day. The two reports point to a risk for the governor in terms of leadership credibility because the city's traffic infrastructure isn't improving and the administration isn't doing anything about it.
This newspaper quoted the governor's own staff as complaining that the number of busway passengers had steadily been decreasing since the time the governor opened up certain busway routes to private vehicles late last year following public outcry.
The governor may have confused motorists making them think the special busway lanes were open to all.
"Ideally, commuters need only 40 to 50 minutes to travel from Ragunan (in South Jakarta) to Dukuh Atas (in Central Jakarta), but it can take 80 minutes in practice because of those other vehicles also using busway lane," according to Udar Priastono, the City transportation agency deputy head, as quoted by this newspaper.
Meanwhile, according to the TMC as reported by detik.com on Friday, there are 120 severely damaged roads in Jakarta.
There are 53 deep potholes in South Jakarta, such as in Ciputat, Pasar Minggu, Mampang, Jl. Gatot Subroto, Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Pattimura and Jl. Dharmawangsa.
Damaged roads can be found in at least 24 areas of East Jakarta, including Jl. M.T. Haryono, Otista, Jl. Ngurah Rai, Condet and Kampung Melayu. There are no fewer than 18 damaged roads in North Jakarta, including Jl. Yos Sudarso, Pluit and Cilincing. In Central Jakarta there are eight damaged roads, including Jl. Sudirman, while in West Jakarta there are at least 17 damaged roads.
We call on the governor to remain firm in his support for the busway system and go ahead with his original plans, not just because the service has helped thousands of commuters every day in Jakarta, but also because the project has cost the public and local authorities dearly. It is true the governor must make significant improvements; but it is also true the governor's own leadership is at stake if he backs down on busway programs because of public pressure.
On the damaged roads, many Jakartans were angry when City officials blamed rain and financial problems. It is true that heavy rain over the past few weeks has hurt roads. But Jakartans also know that many roads in Jakarta were in poor condition long before the rainy season.
City streets have been in bad shape for years, the number of potholes is increasing and city authorities aren't paying serious attention to repair efforts.
There are many examples of shoddy road maintenance. It is hard to deny that corruption plays an important role in such projects.
Let the expert handles it! That was Fauzi's central campaign theme last year. Now the governor has less time to prove it. [Jakarta Post - Editorial: Busway and deadly roads]

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