What does Melbourne have in common with Jakarta?

Traffic Jams in Jakarta

Traffic Jam in Jakarta

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)

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About Friends of Banyule Inc

President & Public Officer of Friends of Banyule Inc, a community not- for-profit organisation to enhance and protect the environmental assets of Banyule City. Currently fighting the proposed NE Link freeway through one of inner Melbourne's most ecologically sensitive areas and historical areas.
This entry was posted in Car Dependency, Population Growth. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What does Melbourne have in common with Jakarta?

  1. Enne K says:

    Victorian government growth “projections” (read population growth boosting efforts) for Melbourne indicate that the city’s population is likely to reach 5 million before 2030. Actively “managing” this growth and change is an important part of Melbourne’s future liveability. The euphemism for “managing” growth is another way of saying it will be deliberately accommodated, giving great opportunities for property developers to sell more land and increase the living density in Melbourne, and Victoria. More people will be crammed in, in an effort to increase the size of our GDP, our economy, despite it being contrary to our interests. The 2008 State of the Environment report already condemned Victoria’s sustainability, and our environment, biodiversity, rivers and ecosystems are all under stress. We are the most cleared State in Australia.
    The next “projection” will be Melbourne@8 million? There are no contingency plans for peak oil, climate change is being given lip-service, food bowls are being covered over by housing estates, and costs are rising – due to dis-economy of scale blowing out any efficiencies. The cost of infrastructure is not supported, and population growth does not pay for itself. The growth continues, and infrastructure costs and planning comes later, paid for by the public. High fuel costs will be disastrous for those living in outer urban expansion corridors.
    We need to stop the rot, the corruption, the politically-GDP driven “economic growth” mantra and aim for a sustainable population, a sustainable economy and restoration of environmental integrity for Victoria.

  2. Beatty says:

    Enne K, your assertions hold true to what is happening to Melbourne. You’ve provided the associated issues that are not being addressed by the Victorian Government, and neither the Melbourne City Council.

    Jakarta is not a city many Aussies would want to live in, due to the huge population and the poverty that surrounds life in Jakarta. The latter is not an ideal place in which to live, and of course, we cannot think Melbourne as a growing city, could still be ‘livable’ under such conditions.

    Residents of Australia will be having to pay the costs of added infrastructure, and the like. Queensland has already sold off state assets, in order to pay for the huge financial costs associated with their population growth up there.

    It all comes with a cost; communities in the U.S have had problems with children being born suffering from deformities due to powerlines/nuclear plants/energy stations. Having more people in the world will squeeze more stress in it too, like Enne K asserts. More people, say in Melbourne, will mean more resources needed, to support more people in it. We, as residents of Melbourne, will have to foot the bill and we are – with water and energy bills soaring, already paying for this added infrastructure.

    This must all stop. Melbournians need to start taking an avid interest in our national immigration program – mass, immigration program, that is artificially growing our population here. Population growth is correlated with climate change, in a number of ways and it is in our interests to curb our own population numbers, so as not to exacerbate what could become a self-inflicted ‘mass suicide’, like it could well be for us.

  3. VivKay says:

    MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, is the only politician who understands the issues of population growth. Kevin Rudd didn’t and his “big Australia” gaffe cost him his Prime Minister -ship – among other things. Tony Abbot doesn’t and neither does Julia Gillard, despite distancing herself from it. They are living in their Ivory Towers, and only listen to those in the big end of town, with all the economic power. Big business sponsor our governments, and those benefiting from growth are those making the decisions about our future. The costs of growth are passed onto the public, and our lifestyles become eroded. All Councils and schools should watch Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle documentary.

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