The Jakarta City Council urged transportation officials on Thursday to review a recently imposed parking ban in the city’s center following a wave of complaints from local businesses.
“We ask the Jakarta Transportation Office to review the implementation of the on-street parking ban along Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk, or see if it can be implemented only in certain areas at certain times,” said Selamat Nurdin, head of the council’s Commission B.
He spoke after meeting with businessmen, parking attendants and other employees who work in the area.
The ban began on Monday to clear parked cars along the busy thoroughfares that span Central and West Jakarta. During a one-month socialization period, cars found parked along the roads will be towed or clamped, but owners will not be fined until the month is up.
“Parked cars outside shops and restaurants along both streets take up valuable road space and causes daily congestion,” said Bernhard Hutajulu, the head of traffic management at the Jakarta Transportation Office.
“On average, about 660 parked cars take up three lanes of the roads. If these lanes were freed up, we estimate traffic capacity could increase by an extra 1,800 cars an hour.”
Bernhard said there were 1,355 off-street parking spaces in the area, including at buildings such as Duta Merlin, the Pelni office, Gajah Mada Plaza, Hayam Wuruk Plaza, Lindeteves Trade Center and Hotel Grand Paragon that were safer than parking by the side of the road.
However, local businessmen suggested during the council meeting that there was a hidden agenda behind the policy.
“I am sure there is a mafia who wants to take control of the Gajah Mada area, and they want to buy our land at a cheap price and the city is taking their side,” said Lieus Sungkharisma, a shop owner on Gajah Mada.
Willy Rentamzil, another Gajah Mada businessman, said that not long after the ban began, an individual visited him offering to buy his land for a cheap price, citing the decline in customers.
“The on-street parking ban is obviously not just to manage Gajah Mada’s traffic,” Willy said.
Lieus claimed the barely week-old ban had already made a big impact on local businesses and the livelihood of people working in the area.
“For people like me, businessmen, we will probably still be OK if we lose our income in Gajah Mada. What about our employees, the parking attendants and street vendors?” he said.
The administration has promised that 160 affected street parking attendants in the area will be moved elsewhere.
Tatak Suwita, who owns a paint shop on Gajah Mada, said the ban was unfairly penalizing businesses in the area when they were not the cause of the traffic.
“If we’re talking about on-street parking causing heavy traffic on Jalan Gajah Mada, the Jakarta Transportation Office needs to see where it happens most of the time,” he said.
“It happens usually in front of the Central Jakarta District Court, and most of the court’s visitors double-park. Most of the shoppers, meanwhile, don’t park a long time. They just come and go quickly.”
Aca Sugandhy, an urban planning expert at the University of Indonesia, agreed with the city administration, saying the ban on on-street parking was a step in the right direction.
H e said the city still needed to come up with a longer-term plan to effectively reduce traffic congestion in the area.
“The administration needs to make a long-term traffic plan to reduce the heavy traffic along Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Hayam Wuruk because there will be more cars in the near future,” he said.