Paying Fine to Trespass Transjakarta Lane: Is It a Good Idea?

It is interesting to follow political condition in Indonesia especially during the turmoil between Police and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). However, current writing is not devoted to this particular issue. I would rather talk about recent issue in Jakarta with its current governor, Basuki Tjahja Purnama, who is also very well-known as Ahok. Just recently, he has sparked a further debate about allowing very-rich people living in Jakarta with their luxury cars for being able to go through the Transjakarta bus line provided that they will pay sufficient amount of money which will then be used as Jakarta’s revenue. Further clarification coming from Ahok saying that the essence of this policy is not to “merely allow” the luxury-car owners to have special treatment; rather, more importantly, it is about deterrent effect that is going to be exploited: the amount of money that should be paid will be increased as long as there are still people who are courage enough to trespass the bus lane. To be fair, such a policy is quite unique since Ahok can actually generate money from the very-rich people by exploiting the possibility of them to avoid traffic jam in Jakarta. Despite of his seriousness in applying this policy or his actual meaning in saying the statement, there is one question to be asked is: is it really a good idea for citizen in Jakarta and Indonesia in general?

It is true that such a policy has sparked debate and controversy. Some agree and some do not. A simple reflection can lead people to rethink about the goodness of the policy. A simple question can then be asked: what condition that will lead us to be a good citizen in ideal condition?

In answering this question, I would like to refer to john Rawls about his theory of justice. Rawls says that behind the veil of ignorance, people will be very likely to prefer a policy that sides with people with high vulnerability. Thus, for example, justice will be preserved by alleviating people who are living in dire circumstances. Only by doing so a country can be considered as just. The main reason behind this idea is clear: because we choose a basis in which we know nothing about our current condition in real world, we will then try to avoid to have a policy that will not support people living in dire conditions. Of course, people living in such conditions do need our help and as we do not know exactly about our outcome, we tend to choose the policy. Generally speaking, equality is much more preferable in preserving justice. Of course in actual circumstance, we cannot have such a veil of ignorance. But it does not mean that we can just ignore such a preposition. In this case, there is one thing important that can be adopted: the importance of equality to preserve justice.

If we take back this theory with Jakarta current case, it is then clear that in we live in unequal condition. This is proven by, for example, a Gini coefficient. Some people are very rich and some of them are very poor and the rest are moderate. However, will this condition justify the way we obey law? Law is made to preserve justice and to ensure that everyone is bound to it. Punishment is then necessary to insist people so they obey the law even though, according to Rawls, in very high degree of civilization, punishment is indeed not necessary because people have trusted each other and no one would like to breach the principle of justice. It is then clear from the point of view of justice that avoiding traffic jam by going through Transjakarta bus lane and paying fine can actually be considered as unequal condition that only sides with very rich people. Those who are very rich can easily say that the fine is actually nothing thanks to their very high income. The situation will be different for people with moderate income since they will be very burdened by the fine that they should pay. In this case, it is clear that justice is not preserved to the very least group. Rather it only accommodates very rich people who can afford in paying fine.

Furthermore, it also negates the essence of fine itself. Since fine is correlated with punishment because of breaching laws, having such a policy will only say that: as long as you have enough money to pay the fine, you will be fine. Of course this is not the case of building a good country. Punishment should be made in order to increase awareness degree of any citizen that it is also their duty to preserve justice as mandated by laws. Otherwise, punishment will only get sharp to the very vulnerable groups and not to the very-rich ones. This will eventually lead to the negation of principle of justice as stated above.

It is quite good actually to fine people who dare to breach Transjakarta lane. However, this should be done indiscriminately. And one thing important to note here is: fine is not a mean to let very-rich people avoid traffic jam in Jakarta. Thus, the most important thing is not to increase the fine amount. Because even if you put fine for 1 billion rupiah, I am quite sure that there are still few people dare to breach the law as long as what they have in mind is: as long as I can pay, I can breach the law. Thus, what is more important is deployment of law enforcers to prevent such drivers breach Transjakarta lane. This is more effective to increase the awareness of any drivers that they are strictly prohibited to use Transjakarta lane.

Last but not least, I think Jakarta already has sufficient revenue. Even recent news have also showed that only around 59% of city’s budget was effectively absorbed last year. This clearly indicates that Jakarta is not that in dire condition in craving for money. What is more important is to increase awareness of people living in Jakarta that if you want to avoid traffic jam, you have to switch to public transportation in order to reduce the vehicle volume in the roads. Of course, this has also to be incentivized by improving the public transportation service. Without doing so, traffic jam will still be a persistent problem for the city.

Traffic Gridlock and Prisoners’ Dilemma

Traffic gridlock is something that people really never want to experience. Quality time is merely wasted just waiting other private vehicles to move. People can then easily get stressed because they know that their time should be spent most without anything to do except waiting. Unfortunately, this is something that people in Jakarta may face in 2014, as predicted, if the number of private vehicles in Jakarta keeps growing in current trend without any significant addition of road. Should we face this nasty condition?

Current debate is arising talking about Low Cost Green Car (LCGC). You could afford such a car by spending your money about 80 million rupiah. It is not then a huge amount of money for those who live in the upper or even middle class family. Furthermore, the driving forces are not merely located at the price that can be considered “low.” LCGC also offers “green living” by bringing slogan “green car.” It then means that you could save more gasoline while using the car. But, the most important driving force, based on my opinion, is still one: prestige. By buying private vehicle, driving it by yourself, your prestige will be substantially raised up, regardless the price you pay for it. But the crucial question arises: with traffic gridlock is waiting ahead, how important your prestige really is with LCGC?

Prisoners’ dilemma

Prisoners’ dilemma is a well-known game theory describing a situation where there are two prisoners detained together but they are separated when being questioned regarding the crime they have just committed. The rule of the game is simple and can be described as below:

  1. If both of the prisoners still cooperate each other (trust his/her colleague for not committing any crime), there will be no evidence taken regarding the crime. Both of them will serve 1 year in prison based upon the evidence taken by judges.
  2. If one of them chooses not to cooperate (tend to defect) and another one still keeps silent (tend to cooperate), he/she who cooperate will serve 10 years in prison based upon clear evidence stated by his/her colleague. And he/she who defects will be freed as a reward.
  3. If both of them defect each other and not keep silent, they will serve 5 years in prison based upon the evidence taken by judges and as a reward since both of them cooperate with the judges. But, the punishment also clears: since it is clear that they committed crime, they have to serve in prison.

Prisoners’ dilemma does also prevail when people live in society and such a dilemma is true when people talk about traffic gridlock that Jakarta people are going to face. The dilemma happens between using private vehicle and public transportation. Let assume that private vehicle is the state of defect and using public transportation is a state of cooperation. To summarize, the dilemma can be stated as below:

  1. If all of us trust each other, using public transportation rather than private vehicle, all of us will be rewarded: no traffic gridlock happens since all of us will prefer use public transportation even though we have to share our private place and maybe turning down our prestige.
  2. If there are few of us defect and use private vehicle rather than public transportation, they will be rewarded road that is free from traffic jam because most people still tend to cooperate for using public transportation. Those who defect will be rewarded prestige and free-road and those who cooperate should still to share place and not thinking about prestige.
  3. If all of us prefer private vehicle rather than public transportation, traffic gridlock will then happen. All of us will be rewarded prestige but should suffer traffic jam everywhere and wasting quality time.

This is the prisoners’ dilemma happening in our society nowadays. Most of us only think about how to enhance the prestige without have anything to consider about how to be a good citizen. Current condition clearly shows a condition either in number 2 or 3. There are only few people who feel that using public transportation will bring reward. On the other hand, those who use private vehicle for prestige always hope that many people will use public transportation in order to ease the traffic. Such a condition can bring a conflict in society. Those who prefer use public transportation demand better service while those who use private vehicle protest about traffic congestion. How could our government solve such a conflicting circumstance? Building road means cutting the space for public transportation and vice versa. Who should be prioritized?

Furthermore, if this conflict brings to the condition number 3, people then feel that “I would also like to purchase private vehicle since those who use private vehicle do not want to change their habit.” In such a circumstance, there is one thing that will happen: the end of public transportation era and all of us will suffer traffic gridlock. This is the actual condition that is happening in Jakarta and maybe in other big cities in Indonesia.  

A good citizen will absolutely choose the first option since all of us will preserve justice and also get advantage from it. No quality time is going to be wasted when all persons choose to use public transportation since the road will then only serve such mass transportations. No one will suffer punishment when they become cooperative each other to use public transportation. The only disadavantage maybe about the pristige that can still be preservend when private vehicle is used. 

But, people then will raise a doubt: public transportation service is not good at all; that is the reason why I choose private vehicle. I often talk to many people raising such an argument. My answer is quite easy: if you want check and balance system happens in our society, you should then use public transportation; you may say that the quality is not good enough but you would improve your skill more if you are incentivized and the same reason does prevail for our society, namely using public transportation is a mean to incentivize our government to do more to improve the quality. If only few people use it, I do not think our government will be triggered to enhance the service of public transportation. If we move together to use the public transportation, we will then get two benefits: avoiding traffic gridlock and improving the check and balance system. Thus, why not use public transportation?

But, such an improvement cannot be accomplished just by moving together to use public transportation. The triggering activities should also be conducted by government. In Jakarta, for example, law enforcers should be firm for not letting any kind of private vehicle to get into Transjakarta line even though the traffic jam can no longer be bore. Hopefully, this condition will deliver people to think that using public transportation is better.

Hence, cooperation scheme between society and government is important in this matter. If we are to avoid traffic gridlock, public transportation should be prioritized rather than private vehicles. The statement raised by industrial ministry saying that LCGC is good for people from low class is then questionable. On the other hand, I agree with Jokowi: Jakarta’s current traffic is already saturated and using public transportation will bring many advantages if cooperation happens between society and government. 

Flood Disaster and the Time to Ask God’s Mercy

Nowadays, mass media in Indonesia are overwhelmed by flood report in Jakarta. As has been predicted, the five-year flood cycle happened on Thursday, January 17th 2013. Many people got isolated and several non-profit organizations are currently distributing logistics to help the refugees located across the city.

The flood is not then uniquely heap nationally. ABC news, located in Australia, also reported the disaster once it happened. But, the more important thing happened in regard with social media that has produced a great impact worldwide when people in this country began to spread their local news either by text or photos. This then produced a great sympathy toward this country labeled with a hash-tag: #prayforindonesia and #prayforjakarta. This is the thing that I would like to comment upon.

Actually, such hash-tags are not merely symbolic in this country. When the flood was happening, many people in social media began to persuade other to pray for the city in order to ask mercy from the Almighty God so God could easily resist anger and then drain the flood. People in Jakarta asked as if they are the God themselves so they felt that they had a legitimacy to ask God to solve the flood problem in just one day and the usual activities could again exist. But, the question is: why can God become so important in such nasty circumstance?

A suspicion may be arise here: people may regard God as if God is the one who is responsible for the good thing considered from the humans’ point of view. In this condition, it is not God that actually creates human beings. The opposite does actually exist since the request sent to God just to satisfy the needs of humans. But, does this hypothesis can be verified? It can be actually justified, in the easiest way.

If God drained the flood instantaneously, what would be happened in the future in this city? It would be the same. People will be doing their daily activities without even have little attention with their circumstances. They will then throw away their trashes into the rivers in Jakarta. They will also build the many semi-permanent buildings alongside the rivers. They will even have no responsibility when seeing how dirty the rivers are. They will get very busy with their business activities, using plastic bags and throw them away anywhere, pump out the ground water as many as possible in order to avoid paying commercial water, do not have any intention to build green areas to catch the rainfall and many more. The conclusion: there would be no difference even though God had placed his hand upon the Jakarta to lift up the flood. The next question is: can be this prediction verified?

It can be easily answered by looking at the actual activities of the people in this city. Flood is indeed not a rare disaster faced by people living in the capital. As mentioned above, every five years, this city has to prepare itself to face the big flood. But, has it changed the habitual of the people living within?

People in this city have no worry in regard of their trashes. They throw them away as if the street sweepers have the responsibility to take the trashes and put them in their proper place. Even though people know perfectly that to build more buildings in this city and pump out more waters from the ground will naturally downgrade the quality of the land, developers still do it in the same way. For them: the most important point is doing business and the rest is nothing. Now, could it be imagined if God has decided to intervene in this case? It can be clearly seen then: there will be no difference either God will intervene or not. People will stay the same because experiences have showed the tendency of the reluctance of the people to change their habit. People in this city do seem very easy to forget the pass disaster without have any intention to make a simple reflection. And when the disaster happens again, they will rely on God, hoping God will solve everything.

If I were the God, I would like to hear the cry from the people in this city but I would like to add the debit of the flood in order to make them realize how bad their activities really are. And if the big flood did not make them realized, I would like to make this city like happened in the Noah age.

It should be made clear then: it is not good to ask God for help in this circumstance. If Indonesians, especially those who live in the capital, do believe that they are indeed God’s unique creation, why do not they use the ability endowed unto them, namely reason? Human beings differ from animals in this regard and this condition that contributes to make human beings more superior to animals, making them have the ability to subdue nature. But, should it be done arbitrarily? Should reason be used just to satisfy the needs of the present human beings without have any notice about the future generations?

People should then rethink about the possibility to change their greed and bad behavior in regard of the flood issue before asking God for help. Asking God will change nothing except contributing in shaping the humans to become the last men in the city: they will build more buildings and throw away their trashes and when the flood comes, they believe God will provide the way because it has been proven before. But, I do believe that God will never answer the request of the people in such a way. If God really loves his creation, God will not let people to become the last men who will just ask anything for help and never endure any difficulties because the difficulties that actually will shape the personality of people. Thus, the important thing in this disaster is not about praying for this city or the country as a whole: it is more about changing the attitude of the people within the city.

This flood, at the very least, has shown how solidarity –that actually acts as the social glue- can be built when the disaster happened. Hopefully, many things will be learned in the days to come after the flood ended. And what I would like to see is the change of the attitude rather than people who can only raise their hand to heaven, hoping God will solve every problem.

Bandung Sebagai Jakarta Kedua (?)

Sebuah pertanyaan besar sedang menanti untuk dijawab. Akankah kota Bandung akan menjadi Jakarta kedua?

Hampir bisa dipastikan semua orang dari seluruh pelosok Nusantara mengetahui kota yang bernama Jakarta, ibukotra dari Republik Indonesia. Bagi mereka yang belum pernah menapakkan kakinya di kota ini, pikiran pertama yang hampir bisa dipastikan muncul yakni sebuah anggapan bahwa Jakarta nerupakan kota yang maju dan modern. Pandangan ini tidak salah, namun juga tidak sepenuhnya lengkap.

Jakarta yang berpredikat sebagai ibukota Indonesia memang memiliki kemajuan yang luar biasa dari segi pembangunan infrastruktur jika dibandingkan dengan kota-kota lain di Indonesia. Namun, Jakarta memiliki kekurangan terutama dalam hal penataan kota. Permasalahan utama yang muncul di ibukota ini adalah minimnya keberadaan Ruang Terbuka Hijau (RTH) serta keberadaan permukiman-permukiman kumuh (slum area) yang memnuhi setiap sudut kota Jakarta. Bahkan tidak jarang permukiman-permukiman ini berdempetan dengan gedung-gedung pencakar langit yang berdiri tegak di jantung kota Jakarta.

Permasalahan-permasalahan utama semacam ini telah memberikan dampak negatif bagi Jakarta sendiri. Bencana alam seperti banjir telah menjadi bencana tahunan yang harus dihadapi setiap warga ibukota. Hal ini disebabkan karena tidak adanya air hujan yang mampu diserap, sebab lahan kosong yang notabenenya bisa dimanfaatkan untuk pembuatan RTH telah habis digunakan untuk mengadakan pembangunan infrastruktur.

Minimnya RTH juga telah menyebabkan intrusi air laut di Jakarta yang akhirnya berujung pada permasalahan baru, yakni pencemaran air tanah. Selain itu, ketiadaan RTH yang cukup, juga membuat polusi udara semakin tidak terkendali yang juga diperparah dengan penggunaan kendaraan bermotor yang semakin marak.

Bandung sebagai tujuan

Keadaan Jakarta yang buruk jika dilihat dari segi kualitas udara, menjadi salah satu penyebab mengapa warga Jakarta pada akhirnya berusaha untuk mencari tempat lain yang memiliki kualitas udara yang lebih baik dan tentunya tidak sepanas di Jakarta.

Alhasil, kota Bandung terpilih sebagai tujuan utama. Selain dipilih karena kesejukan udaranya, Bandung juga dipilih karena jaraknya yang tidak terlalu jauh dan tentunya akan terasa sangat dekat dengan kehadiran Tol Cipularang sekarang.

Migrasi semacam ini tentu memberikan dampak positif dan negatif. Dampak positif yang bisa didapat yakni meningkatnya pendapatan daerah kota Bandung dari sektor pariwisata, sebab para wisatawan yang berkunjung ke Bandung hampir bisa dipastikan akan menghabiskan sejumlah uangnya untuk biaya akomodasi.

Sedangkan di sisi lain akan muncul dampak negatif, yakni terdorongnya para konglomerat maupun kaum bermodal lainnya untuk saling berlomba membangun fasilitas penunjang bagi para wisatawan, seperti hotel, restoran, tempat perbelanjaan modern, dan lain sebagainya. Sayangnya, pembangunan semacam ini sering tidak memedulikan keberadaan RTH yang ada di Bandung. Akibatnya, Bandung yang ada sekarang sudah tidak lagi sejuk seperti sediakala dan cenderung semrawut yang ditandai dengan kemacetan yang sering terjadi di beberapa titik di kota Bandung.

Data yang dimuat pada harian Kompas Jawa Barat tanggal 27 Agustus 2009 menyebutkan bahwa luas RTH yang ada di kota Bandung saat ini hanya berkisar 1484,83 hektar atau hanya sekitar 8,87 persen dari luas total kota Bandung yang mencapai 16.729 hektar.

Hal ini tentu sangat jauh dari kata memadai. Konferensi Bumi yang diadakan di Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, pada tahun 1992 menyebutkan bahwa idealnya saebuah kota besar harus memiliki luas RTH minimal tiga puluh persen dari luas total wilayahnya. Jika merujuk pada konferensi ini, maka kota Bandung seharusnya memiliki RTH seluas 5018,7 hektar atau sekitar tiga kali lebih banyak dari yang ada saat ini.

Namun nampaknya, hal ini masih sangat jauh dari kenyataan mengingat pembuatan RTH seringkali terbentur berbagai kepentingan terutama terkait dengan masalah biaya mulai dari biaya pembebasan lahan hingga biaya perawatan RTH itu sendiri. Padahal, kebutuhan RTH untuk kota Bandung ini sudah terbilang sangat penting. Pembangunan yang tidak disertai dengan keberadaan RTH yang cukup, terbukti hanya akan menimbulkan berbagai masalah seperti yang terjadi di Jakarta. Bukan tidak mungkin jika pada akhirnya kota Bandung akan mengalami kekurangan air bersih karena air tanah yang ada telah disedot habis oleh pihak-pihak yang mengedepankan rasa egoisnya.

Selain itu, dengan RTH yang tidak memadai, maka lahan untuk berekrteasi grtais juga akan semakin berkurang dan kota Bandung juga akan kekurangan penyaring dan pendingin udara alaminya yang tentunya akan membuat Bandung tidak bisa lagi menjadi sejuk seperti sediakala.

Dukungan masyarakat dan pemerintah

Memang, untuk merealisasikan RTH sebesar tiga puluh persen bukanlah perkara mudah. Kita juga tidak bisa begitu saja menjustifikasi pemerintah kota Bandung yang salah. Ini merupakan tanggung jawab seluruh warga Bandung, bukan hanya pada pemerintah kota Bandung saja.

Menggalakkan penghijauan di lingkungan sekitar rumah bisa menjadi salah satu alternatif yang cukup mudah dilaksanakan. Selain itu, membuat sumur resapan juga bisa menjadi alternatif yang cukup baik untuk menampung air hujan sehingga air itu tidak mengalir sia-sia, melainkan terserap kembali ke dalam tanah.

Pemerintah kota Bandung pun sudah seyogyanya untuk berani mengambil keputusan dan tindakan nyata terkait maslaah minimnya keberadaan RTH ini. Pemkot Bandung harus berani untuk mengalokasikan dana yang ada untuk pembuatan RTH. toh, harganya nanti akan terbayar dengan kembalinya Bandung menjadi kota yang asri dan tidak semrawut. Selain itu, perlu juga dibuat peraturan-peraturan yang lebih tegas perihal pembangunan dan tata kota di Bandung.

Kolaborasi antara masyarakat dan pemerintah kota Bandung dalam penanganan masalah ini perlu untuk dilakukan. Jika tidak, kita hanya akan bisa merasakan kota Bandung yang sama panas dan semrawutnya dengan kota Jakarta.