Environmental activists on Monday urged the Jakarta Administration to temporarily halt its car-free days on selected city roads, saying a re-evaluation was needed because the event had failed to reduce air pollution and loose regulations have resulted in many violations, including those by senior officials.
“Legally, the car-free days cannot be stopped, but the city administration should halt them temporarily and conduct a review of what went wrong. Honestly, it’s been such a waste,” Selamet Daroyni, the executive director of the Jakarta branch of Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, told a press conference.
Selamet said car-free days, generally on Sundays, had failed to achieve the short-term objective of minimizing air pollution and also had failed to encourage Jakarta residents to be more environmentally friendly and less dependent on cars.
“If we perceive this issue from the three success indicators, I’d say these events did not help much,” Selamet said.
He said the indicators were public participation, air pollution reduction and public obedience, including by government officials and law enforcers.
Ahmad Safrudin, of the Committee for Phasing Out Leaded Gasoline, said car-free days merely relocated traffic flow from one place to another without reducing air pollutants.
He said that a report by the Jakarta Environmental Management Board, or BPLHD, that air pollution has decreased significantly was unreliable.
“Jakarta has five air quality monitoring systems, but only one of them is working, so I doubt the report,” he said.
Ahmad said the inefficiency of car-free days had been proven by many violations, with some of the violators being government officials and policemen.
Responding to criticism, Rina Suryani, the BPLHD head of natural resources monitoring, said they had scientific measurements to prove that car-free days had in fact contributed significantly to air pollution reduction.
“In some parts of Jakarta, the air quality has gotten better because of this program,” she said.
Rina said the board could not enforce sanctions against violators because the 2005 bylaw enabling car-free days had not stipulated any.
Jakarta’s car-free days began in September 2007 and are held on the last Sunday of each month.
This year BPLHD has scheduled 22 road closure events.
Source : http://www.thejakartaglobe.com
Photo : http://bataviase.files.wordpress.com
February 23, 2009, by Dessy Sagita