Monday, April 26, 2004



Hitched a ride back to my hotel with a colleague rather early today to avoid the traffic jam. The 3-in-1 ruling which requires three passengers per car during rush hour to enter areas where the Busway system is operating has really disrupted traffic everywhere. The strange thing is that cars that are already inside the business district are also required to have 3 passengers to get out.

The 3-in-1 ruling has been around for many years. But since the Busway transport system has been introduced--effectively removing one lane from each side of the main thoroughfare from Block M to Kota--the ruling hours have been extended and also imposed on traffic travelling within the business district.

So many people are forced to stay back in the office until 7.00pm when the 3-in-1 period ends. Those who still want to drive home alone has to use back exits to avoid coming out from Jalan Sudirman, causing enormous congestion on those backalleys that are already cramped with hawkers and urban kampung houses.

Jokis are an interesting sight in Jakarta: these are people offering themselves at all entry points into the 3-in-1 area to be the extra second or third passenger, for a small fee. You can see them standing by the side of the road with raised index fingers--indicating an offer of one passenger. Some are women carrying babies--I suppose that counts as two passengers.

Locals joke that the 3-in-1 system has created a lot of job opportunities for jokis and also generated extra income for policemen who stand vigilantly at all the entry points nabbing drivers who violate the ruling.

Since most cars have heavily tinted glass here, I suggested to my friend to use life-sized dolls or mannequins as extra passengers to fool the policemen. I also had another wild idea: perhaps cars here should be equipped with built-in inflatable "passengers" on the front and backseats--instant companions at the push of a button. That will be infinitely more useful than an airbag.

All this while Jakarta drivers have also been happily driving around without having to use seat belts ("sabuk pengaman"). But looks like this has changed too--now everyone is required to buckle up. And of course, every new ruling is a "business opportunity" for the law enforcement officers here.

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