The city administration and the central government have come up with several mega projects that are expected to be a panacea to the capital’s many problems, especially its traffic and floods. Some of the projects, like the mass rapid transit (MRT) system and Transjakarta busway, get more nods from experts and the public than criticism. But others have met with more criticism than approval. Here are five controversial projects, planned and ongoing:
Giant Sea Wall
Worrying that Jakarta might sink, former governor Fauzi Bowo (2007-2012), who holds a PhD in urban planning, initiated the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) program, popularly known as the Giant Sea Wall (GSW). The project also included a reclamation project and the development of 17 artificial islets off the capital’s north coast.
The project, forecast to require hundreds of trillions of rupiah in funding, is designed to involve private investment. Critics and experts, however, have been sceptical of the project, pointing out that it will only favor business interests.
The outgoing central government recently held a launch of what it said was the first phase of the NCICD program, namely a 32-kilometer embankment along the coast of Jakarta. The embankment is designed to be 75 meters high, while the width of the surface is planned to be 13.7 meters.
Thinking that Jakarta residents needed to be able to move more quickly inside the capital, former governor Sutiyoso introduced a plan to build a monorail. Private consortium PT Jakarta Monorail won the project, which until now has been in limbo.
The consortium proposed to build two routes, the first being the green line to serve Kuningan-Kuningan Sentral-Gatot Subroto-Senayan-Asia Afrika-Pejompongan-Karet-Dukuh Atas-Kuningan. The second route would be the blue line, serving Kampung Melayu-Tebet-Kuningan-Casablanca-Tanah Abang-Roxy-Taman Anggrek.
Pointing out that the project and the consortium were not feasible, Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said he would cancel the project once he took over the leadership from outgoing Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Six inner-city toll roads
Thinking that Jakarta had not enough roads to cope with the ever-increasing number of cars, Sutiyoso (1997-2007), a former military general, introduced a plan to build a 69.7-kilometer inner-city toll road, divided into six parts, that would involve an investment of Rp 42 trillion (US$3.63 billion).
The toll roads were designed to connect all five of Jakarta’s municipalities.
The plan was widely resisted by urban planners, activists and netizens, and in early 2013 at least 4,000 people signed a petition demanding that the city administration cancel the plan.
However, the Public Works Agency and the city administration recently signed an agreement to begin the project.
Thinking that it would reduce traffic gridlock, Fauzi Bowo initiated a plan to construct overpasses connecting busy areas such as Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta; Casablanca, South Jakarta; Pangeran Antasari and Blok M in South Jakarta.
The idea was that building new roads would improve the “road ratio” (the number of vehicles compared to the total length of roads available) and thus reduce traffic congestion, an assumption many experts deemed misleading.
In 2010, there were at least 40 overpasses in Jakarta, built either by the Public Works Agency or the city administration, and more than 10 underpasses, none of which have been able to reduce traffic congestion in the city — in fact, they only relocated the congestion elsewhere.
Ciliwung deep tunnel
Aiming to make water flow faster, thus, reducing the risk of flooding in the capital, Sutiyoso came up with an idea to construct a deep tunnel connecting the Ciliwung River with the East Flood Canal (KBT) to reroute part of the Ciliwung River water to the KBT during the rainy season.
Sudirman Asun of the Ciliwung Institute, however, said that as long as the city did nothing to improve water catchment areas in South Jakarta, such a project would only harm the lower area of North Jakarta, as water would arrive faster than it could actually handle.
The Ciliwung Institute also criticized the construction of a concrete embankment along a 19-kilometer stretch of the river in Jakarta, saying the concrete would reduce the river’s water catchment capacity.