Traffic in Jakarta is one of the worst in the world. Sometimes you feel like screaming to all those jerks who think they own the roads — bus, trucks, motorcycles. Avi one day sent me an SMS, about his frustration of Jakarta’s traffic, especially the motorcycles. (Kata Vita sih itu motor-motor dogol!) They get on your nerve pretty easily – they get in your way, cut your way out of nowhere, turn left or right without giving signs, they run the traffic light (probably they become color blind when it comes to red). Kayaknya kalau mobil-mobil diperlengkapi dengan electric shock bagus juga tuh. Kalo mereka nyenggol mobil kita tanpa peduli dan pake melotot-melotot, mereka bisa langsung kelojotan kena setrum. Ada nggak ya teknologi seperti itu?
So, when I read one of the posting in The Jakarta Post’s “Your Letter”, I can’t help but laugh at what Andrew said about the traffic.
Learning Bahasa Indonesia can be confusing for foreigners, particularly in Jakarta. The language itself is not such a difficult thing of itself, it is the way the meanings of words seem to get twisted around.
For example, beginner Indonesian students would think that halte means “bus stop”. In fact anyone who has traveled behind a bus on Jakarta’s streets knows that the real meaning is something like “only place where you can be certain that the bus will not stop”.
Perempatan is another one. This seems to mean intersection but for buses it really means “place where you can stop and wait until the bus is full while blocking all other traffic”.
Traffic laws can also be a bit of a mystery. I am still not sure whether traffic lights apply to buses or not, because the same ones that wait at the intersection until they are full then move off regardless of whether the light is red. Motorcycles too seem to have a permanent “jalan terus (go ahead) as long as you can get away with it without being killed” permission under the road rules.
There have been many calls for addtional infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion, and the fact that it has not yet developed primarily due to lack of financing. I think there is a way for Indonesia to save money on transportation infrastructure.
Anyone who ahs traveled on a toll road will know that the left lane is surplus to requirements because nobody uses it. There is a saving there. Undisciplined drivers (i.e. 95% of them by my reckoning) prefer to stay in the right hand lanes even when traveling slowly. That is unless the traffic is absolutely macet (congested) when even the emergency stopping lane gets used, even though, or perhaps because, that is illegal. Indeed, if a left lane is in fact required perhaps it should also be designated as an emergency stopping lane and so more people would use it.
Indonesia, discipline is not a four letter word!
Sender: Andrew Keith (Jakarta)
As appeared on “Your Letters”, The Jakarta Post, May 1, 2007
So… any conclusion?