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Economy

Jakarta's traffic jams show no signs of abating

JAKARTA -- Imagine traveling only 2-3km in one or two hours of heavy traffic. Welcome to Jakarta, a city notorious for chronic traffic congestion that is considered to be among the worst in the world. 

The national and municipal governments are taking measures to tackle the problem. 

On Aug. 30, the government of Jakarta officially launched new restrictions to limit the number of cars entering the center of the city during the morning and evening rush hours. 

Under the system, cars with license plates ending with an even number will be allowed on designated streets on only even-numbered dates. Alternately, vehicles with plates ending in an odd number will be able to access those streets on only odd-numbered dates. 

Jakarta's police have been enforcing the regulation and cracking down on offending drivers. 

So far, however, the system has had a limited effect as numerous drivers go into the city center using various shortcuts. Compounding the trouble, commuters are finding it difficult to ditch their cars and motorcycles because subways and other modes of public transportation are underdeveloped in the capital. 

Jakarta's provincial government aims to introduce a fee system, similar to the one in Singapore, under which tolls are levied on vehicles driving into the center of the city. And while the introduction of an electronic toll system is being considered, it would likely take time to implement due to technical problems and the need to change relevant laws. Therefore, Jakartans can expect traffic congestion to continue for some time. 

New car sales have been recovering of late in the country, but chronic traffic jams could negatively affect consumer appetite. Japanese automakers hold more than a 90% market share in the important market of Indonesia. The public and private sectors need to put their heads together and find a way to alleviate the snarling traffic problem. 

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