Jakarta Won’t Bow to Central Govt In Tussle Over Toll Road Truck Ban

The Jakarta Globe

The Jakarta administration has no plans to lift its ban on heavy trucks using inner-city toll roads, saying it will use the regional autonomy law to make sure that the central government does not shoot down the policy.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said that according to the 2004 Law on Regional Autonomy, his administration had the right to run the province without interference from the Ministry of Transportation.

“In principle, we in the provinces will choose what is best for us,” he said on Friday, a day after the head of the Jakarta chapter of the Land Transportation Operators Association (Organda), Sudirman, said the ban would likely be overturned.

“I would like to stress that what has been done here is in accordance with the desires of all Jakartans,” Fauzi added.

The governor said he had not yet been contacted by Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi regarding a possible challenge to the ban.

The Jakarta Police announced last week that several stretches of the city’s toll roads would be off limits to heavy trucks from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If the monthlong measure proves to be effective in reducing traffic congestion, it will be adopted permanently, authorities have said.

On Thursday, Bambang Erfan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, said that plans were already in the works to revoke the ordinance.

He said the ministry had not agreed to the policy, which would only shift the traffic problems from one area to another. He also said the roads affected were national roads, and therefore fell under the authority of the central government.

As a result of the ban, Bambang said areas on the outskirts of the capital had already reported worsening traffic, citing Serpong as a prime example.

Yohanes Hartono, a legal expert from Yogyakarta’s Atma Jaya University, said on Friday that he agreed with Fauzi that the city was within its rights to set its own land transportation policies.

“The Jakarta administration, however, has to keep in mind that these inner-city toll roads were built with funds from the national budget,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

“It also has to keep in mind that, in accordance with the 2004 Law on Roads, which elaborates on road management, the inner-city toll roads are indeed national roads and the bodies managing those roads answer to the Transportation Ministry.”

The trial period for the partial ban is set to end on June 10. By that time, the city hopes to have enough information to report to the central government on the benefits created for residents — both motorists and those using public transportation.

“There needs to be better coordination between the central government and the city administration in regard to the management and use of the inner-city toll roads,” Yohanes said. “This is crucial.”

Zainal Arifin Mochtar, a legal expert from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, agreed that regional autonomy laws ensured that local administrations had wide-ranging powers to govern their own provinces.

“However, Jakarta is the capital city and happens to be the seat of the central government, so it can’t afford to not coordinate with the central government,” he said.

Former Constitutional Court Chief Jimly Asshidiqie, meanwhile, said the administration’s ban on trucks could not be revoked by the ministry.

“However, the city should consider the impact on trucking-related businesses,” he said.

“I agree that the regions have every right to manage their own areas as they see fit, but they should not arbitrarily issue such policies.”

The head of the Jakarta Traffic Police, Sr. Comr. Royke Lumowa, confirmed on Friday that the partial ban would not be lifted.

“The Ministry of Transportation has not said anything to us,” he told reporters.

“The ministry may have told Organda that it will take its views into consideration and instruct its Directorate General of Land Transportation to coordinate with other related parties on the matter, but we have not heard anything yet,” he said.

“The flow of traffic has picked up considerably on the inner-city toll roads. Why would we want to change that?” he added.

The truck ban covers the southern stretch of the Inner Ring Road, from Tomang in West Jakarta to Cawang in East Jakarta. It also applies to the toll roads between Pluit in North Jakarta and Tomang; Cawang and Cikunir in Bekasi; and Cawang and Pasar Rebo in East Jakarta.

Trucks traveling to the port in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, between 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. are only allowed to use the Outer Ring Road. Trucks on the Jagorawi toll road coming from the direction of Bogor must travel to Tanjung Priok via Cikunir and Cilincing, North Jakarta.

The city administration last year announced Rp 40 trillion ($4.68 billion) would be spent to build six new toll roads to ease the capital’s gridlock.

The ambitious project, which was scheduled to be completed in 2014, will create 75 kilometers of new roadways in the city.

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