Problems and Challenges in Jakarta Caused by Rapid Urbanisation

Deden Rukmanaan Associate Professor and Coordinator of Urban Studies and Planning program at Savannah State University, Georgia, gives his opinion on the rapid growth of Jakarta.

Problems and Challenges in Jakarta Caused by Rapid Urbanization

Not only is Jakarta the largest metropolitan area in Southeast Asia, it is also the most dynamic, though beset with most of the urban problems experienced in twentieth first century Southeast Asia. Jakarta has been the capital of Indonesia since the Dutch colonial era and the economic, commercial and transportation hub of the nation. The population of Jakarta in 1900 was about 115,000. After Independence, Jakarta increased by nearly three times to 1.43 million by 1950. It increased to 2.91 million in 1960 and 4.47 million in 1970. Table below shows the population of Jakarta and the inner and outer peripheries of Jakarta, from 1980 to 2010. The Megacity of Jakarta or popularly known as Jabodetabek increased from 11.91 million in 1980, 17.14 million in 1990, and 20.63 million in 2000 to 28.01 million in 2010. The megacity in 2010 was 11.79 percent of Indonesia’s total population but this population resides in less than 0.3 percent of Indonesia’s total area.

Population of the Megacity of Jakarta in 1980-2010
(in millions)
Area 1980 1990 2000 2010
Core 6.50 8.26 8.39 9.60
  Jakarta 6.50 8.26 8.39 9.60
Inner peripheries n.a n.a 4.93 7.22
  City of Tangerang n.a n.a 1.33 1.80
  City of South Tangerang n.a n.a 0.80 1.29
  City of Depok n.a n.a 1.14 1.75
  City of Bekasi n.a n.a 1.66 2.38
Outer peripheries 5.41 8.88 7.31 11.20
  City of Bogor 0.25 0.27 0.75 0.95
  Tangerang Regency 1.53 2.77 2.02 2.84
  Bekasi Regency 1.14 2.10 1.62 2.63
  Bogor Regency 2.49 3.74 2.92 4.78
Megacity of Jakarta 11.91 17.14 20.63 28.02

Sources: Indonesia Central Bureau of Statistics

Rapid urbanization in the megacity of Jakarta caused a wide range of urban problems in the last few decades. Two major problems are traffic congestions and floods. Jakarta is estimated to lose US$3 billion a year because of traffic congestion which can’t be separated from the high growth rate of vehicle ownership. The daily jams in Jakarta are getting worse. Motorcycles are ubiquitous and can be acquired with a down payment of as little as $30. The motorcycle ownership grew from 1.62 million in 2000 to 7.52 million in 2010 and 13.08 million in 2014. People who live in the outskirts of Jakarta can save as much as 30% of their transportation costs using motorcycles to work rather than public transport.

Nearly two-thirds of the population live in the peripheral areas of Jakarta commute to the center for most of their needs including jobs, schools, medical, entertainments, etc. Unless there are a reliable, accessible, and affordable public transportation modes that connect the center and peripheral areas of the megacity of Jakarta, the traffic congestions in the megacity of Jakarta will not be resolved. Most metropolitan areas in the world with the population of over 10 million have operated metros or mass rapid transits for years. Jakarta is the largest city in the world without a metro. Jakarta just started the construction of MRT in September 2015. The completion of MRT in Jakarta in the next few more years is expected to reduce the traffic congestion in Jakarta.

Jakarta lies in a lowland area with 13 rivers. All tributaries and basin areas of these 13 rivers are located in the peripheries of the megacity, strongly associated with the floods in Jakarta. Industrial parks and new towns were built in the peripheries of Jakarta and many of them have converted water catchment areas, green areas and wetlands. Such land conversions have affected the severity of flooding in Jakarta. Floods have become a threat and bring increasing woes for Jakarta residents every year.

In 2007, the worst floods in memory inundated about 70% of Jakarta, killed at least 57 people and sent about 450,000 fleeing their houses. In 2012, floods inundated hundreds of homes along major Jakarta waterways and displaced 2,430 people. In 2013, many parts of Jakarta were inundated following heavy rain and killed at least 20 people and sent at least 33,502 fleeing their houses. In 2015, the flood inundated many parts of the Megacity of Jakarta and caused an estimated losses of $234 million. In August 2016, eight sub-districts in South Jakarta and East Jakarta were flooded affecting 10,538 households. Annual flooding in Jakarta is strong evidence that rapid urbanization in Jakarta must be reduced.

As long as Jakarta remains the primary growth machine of the nation, the economic growth of Jakarta will be strongly associated with the pace of Indonesia’s economic growth, and will correspond to rapid urbanization in Jakarta. Indonesia will need to create more urban centers to reduce the burdens of Jakarta. In addition, rapid urbanization in Jakarta was generated by an influx of migrants from other parts of the nation, particularly from poor regions of Java Island. Poverty in rural areas of Java became a factor that pushed people from rural areas to urban ones. Alleviating rural poverty in Java will address not only the problems of the rural poor, but also reduce the pressures in and on Jakarta and its peripheries.

Words : Deden Rukmana
Photos : Isidro Ramirez from Jakarta : Modest Interventions and Minor Improvisations

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