culture & community

Jokowi and the Future of Jakarta

by Vania — November 6, 2012

Save Jakarta

Last September, Jakarta elected a new governor, Joko Widodo for the next five years. He had won against incumbent Fauzi Bowo who is largely viewed by disgruntled Jakarta’s populace to have failed at fulfilling his promises. Jokowi, as Indonesia calls him, to Jakarta is probably comparable to President Obama to the US when he was first elected to office in 2007. Simply put, Jokowi is a ray of hope and the advocate of change for the citizens of Jakarta.

The down to earth, former Mayor of Solo, who was a nominee of world’s best mayor of 2012, is expected to bring changes to Jakarta as he had done to the city of Solo. There is a lot of work to do.

Jokowi needs to solve the Jakarta’s ongoing problem such as rush hour deadlock, flood, the growing ghetto areas, corruption and horrible work ethic amongst public officials, amongst others.

Since his first day of work, he had been touring Jakarta’s impoverished areas and talking to locals before drawing up a plan. This is a step that many before him had abandoned once they had been elected.  A health care program is in the making in conjunction with Indonesian prominent worker insurance company, PT Askes. He visited the governor of West Java to discuss joint flood preventive measures, a move marked by many as humble – his predecessor used to request the neighboring governor to come to Jakarta in him stead.

Unfinished monorail pillars scattered in the city

His predecessors also left him many mistakes and misjudgments to be fixed. The Bowo administration approved almost Rp. 1 Trillion (around US$103 Million) of unpaid tax from private companies. Another one of the most notable  ‘boo boos’ is the scrapped monorail project and the upcoming plans for MRT with Japan.  Bowo stopped the monorail project in 2007 due to the lack of investors, leaving South & Central Jakarta’s main streets with unfinished monorail pillars. The MRT concepts and plans were largely promoted in 2012, just in time for election.  However at a VIP lounge in 2008, I overheard that a certain person had flown to Japan to discuss about building an MRT. True enough, the parts for the MRT will be purchased from Japan and the contractor for this project will be from Japan as well.  Not only does the project have an expensive price tag just to complete it but Jakarta will be charged Rp. 800 Million (US$ 83,000) per day for project delays and cancellation.

There is no clear solution to Jakarta’s ongoing problems as of now. Jokowi prefers to cover all the bases before finalizing a plan. He likes to see or hear it first hand. I personally like his approach, but I do hope that he does not spend too much time researching and holding discussions. We do want to see a feasible plan drawn up and coming into action. We do want him to fulfill his campaign promises.

For better or worse, our new Governor’s efforts will be futile if Jakartans fail to support his plans. In the end, it is up to the inhabitants of this capital city to improve living conditions. How about starting with dealing with the proper disposal of trash?

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