What do Melbourne and Jakarta have in common? More than we might think as it might happen.
We might think of ourselves in Melbourne as a smaller city than Jakarta. We are, but perhaps for not much longer. Melbourne’s population has been projected to grow to 7 million by the year 2050. Jakarta’s current population is now 9.6 million and also growing. A recent article in the Guardian Weekly, highlighting an interview with urban planning and transport activist Marco Kusumawijaya, shows that the problems we have are shared by Jakarta: Urban sprawl linked to population growth; property speculation coupled with low housing affordability; car dependency as a consequence of poor mass transit; and under provision of effective bus services in particular (very familiar in Banyule in particular). Unsurprisingly the solutions have much in common in the two cities as well.
Read an extract from the Guardian Weekly article below:
Marco Kusumawijaya, a planner and founder of Rujak, a non-government organisation advocating a sustainable future for cities and regions, condemns the clichés associated with Jakarta. “It’s true the population has increased, but it is quite wrong to say the urban fabric is denser. In fact, it’s the opposite: rising population goes with urban sprawl and more suburbs,” he says. “It is also wrong to claim there are too many cars per capita. In Jakarta there are 250 cars per 1,000 people, compared with 800 in the United States. The real problem is that people use their cars too often in one day because of shortcomings in the transit system.”
He admits there are no easy answers. Plans to build a monorail link and a subway system are still being discussed. In 2009 Japan’s international co-operation agency gave the go-ahead for a loan at preferential rates to fund much of the subway. Priority bus lanes have also been laid out along main roads, but car drivers often disregard the rules.
Kusumawijaya does not believe the president’s projects will be enough to make Jakarta livable. “The bus lanes are a good idea, but badly managed,” he says. “The monorail will only serve the city centre, doing nothing to help people in the suburbs, and the subway will not be finished before 2016.”
If, as the experts suggest, the answer is to improve the existing city rather than moving into the jungle, incentives will be needed to draw the middle class back into the city centre. Just as elsewhere, high rents have driven many away – and the proliferation of lavish shopping malls has fuelled property speculation.
“We have to rethink the way we use land, encouraging people to move back and stop building tower blocks,” Kusumawijaya says. “We must combat the idea that Jakarta is no longer worth bothering with.”
(From Bruno Philip, “Jakarta in jeopardy,” Guardian Weekly, 31 December 2010)