A city that stops moving will die

Aug 24, 2013 by

During my 2nd year back in uni, I wrote a short essay on Jakarta’s traffic and its impact on the city’s life. The essay was an assignment for my South East Asian subject, a breath subject that I chose based solely on my curiosity of my beloved country and its neighbours. A curiosity of the region’s potentials and future growth. So I said to myself that I shall start small and start with my own country city, my Jakarta.

daily view for Jakartans

daily view for Jakartans


The other day I was watching Megastructures: Seoul: Unlocking The Grid, an episode of National Geographic Channel’s series on megastructures. Here’s the excerpt

On 1 July, 2004, under the circumstances, the city implemented an innovative traffic reform. It introduced, for the first time in the world, a state of the art transport system by coupling IT technology with a traffic policy and carried out a citizen-oriented comprehensive traffic policy.This program will take a close look into its traffic reform policy and the secrets to success, and introduce scientifically its state of the art transport system, a key technology to the success. (Taken from http://natgeotv.com/in/megastructures/about)


As I watched the Seoul’s amazingly structured public transportation system on my TV screen, a little jealousy started to crawl in. A city with a smaller area than Jakarta (605.2 km² to 740.3 km²) and slightly more population (10.58 million to 10.19 million, based on 2011 data) somehow able to have an effective public transport and road systems and managed to keep them clean! The traffic reform in Seoul included a removal of a flyover in the city centre (in a bid to reduce passenger cars and pollution) and a reformation in bus system. The new bus system in Seoul reminds me of Transjakarta, with its middle ramps and the fact that it’s bus (duh!) Each bus has a GPS that enables location and speed tracking, which gives information to waiting passengers and other road users of the traffic condition. The same concept as an app that you might be using to find the quickest way home called Waze.

Between my jealousy, the episode showed that the city of Seoul moved the street vendors to clean up the roads which instantly reminded me of the relocation of street vendors in Tanah Abang that just happened few days ago. This fact led me to ponder on Jakarta and the changes that it’s going through now. I don’t want to go into politics but to be honest I’m excited with the hope for a better city that our current leaders bring. I used to go home by Transjakarta back in my highschool years and it’s quite sad to see that the bus stops are looking less inviting. I dream of a city where people can be comfortable in public transports, I dream of a city where people can stroll safely on the street, I dream of a city where it is a culture to throw trash in the bin and queuing is a no brainer, I dream of a city with less cigarette smoke and more fresh air from the parks where people can relax and enjoy. Most of all, I dream of a city where traffic moves much faster than 10km/h.

Jakarta, please never stop moving…

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>