The Forgotten Casualties of Jakarta’s On-Street Parking Ban

The Jakarta Globe

Dedy Surya has worked as a parking attendant along Jalan Hayam Wuruk in Central Jakarta since 1975.

“It might seem like an easy job, and if you only do it occasionally then yes, it is,” he said on Friday.

“But if you have to do it day in and day out for a living, then it’s hard,” he added. “I only earn Rp 60,000 [$7] a day, but I can’t save any of it because my commute here costs Rp 12,000 and I have to give a Rp 30,000 cut to the police or transportation office.”

He said this “protection fee” — and the fact that he has had to keep paying it for more than 35 years — is what riles him the most about the city administration’s plan to ban on-street parking along Jalan Hayam Wuruk and Jalan Gajah Mada without offering alternative employment for the parking attendants.

“Thirty thousand isn’t a small amount of money for me, yet I’ve been paying it loyally every day, even on days when I don’t earn anything,” Dedy said. “So if they scrap parking here, will they ever offer us replacement jobs?”

The city says roadside parking outside the shops and restaurants along both streets takes up valuable road space and causes daily congestion. Authorities estimate traffic capacity could increase by an extra 1,800 cars an hour if the lanes used for on-street parking were freed up.

City officials have said the two streets have a combined on-street parking capacity of only 650 vehicles, while the available parking space in the buildings that line both roads is enough for more than 4,500 motorcycles and 6,200 cars.

Udar Pristono, head of the Jakarta Transportation Office, said on Friday that the prohibition would take effect on June 1. He said his office was erecting signs to inform motorists about the change.

“We’ll be posting officers along those streets to ensure that drivers no longer park there,” he said, adding that his office would maintain a 24-hour watch on the area. “Anyone found parking on the street will be ticketed,” he added. “If drivers can’t be found, their cars will be wheel-clamped.”

Udar said the campaign to inform motorists, building owners and parking attendants about the prohibition was being conducted throughout this month.

“I’m optimistic that this operation, which is ultimately about improving traffic flow in the area, will be successful,” he said.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, chairman of the nongovernmental Jakarta Transportation Council, welcomed the parking ban as a potentially effective solution to the chronic traffic congestion on the two streets.

“If after being implemented it turns out that the parking ban really helps alleviate traffic jams, then the policy should be extended to other streets with similar problems,” he said.

He also called on the transportation office to hike the on-street parking fee to discourage motorists from parking on the roadside, and prompt them to either use parking lots or forgo their cars altogether.

“If parking fees are raised, people will be inclined to use public transportation,” Azas said.

However, Ratmaji, a parking attendant who works outside the Central Jakarta District Court on Jalan Gajah Mada, said he was skeptical that the parking ban would be fully enforced on both streets.

“I don’t think they’ll enforce it in the vicinity of the courthouse,” he said. “The court doesn’t have its own parking lot, so if they do impose the parking ban here, where are court visitors supposed to park?”

Udar stressed that the entire street would be a no-parking zone, including outside the court. For buildings without their own parking lots, he said, visitors could use the “off-street parking available in many public places or shopping centers such as Gajah Mada Plaza and Glodok Plaza.”

Dede, a parking attendant on Jalan Hayam Wuruk, said the administration should evaluate its decision to prohibit on-street parking, arguing that it was not the only cause of traffic jams in the area.

“For reasons that I can’t fathom, police officers sometimes stop vehicles from passing through intersections here when the light is green,” he said.

“The city needs to see that this is also a factor in the traffic jams. Instead of banning parking here and taking away jobs from poor people like us, the city authorities need to come up with a better solution.”

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