Budget Bottlenecks Result In More Congestion
Andreas D. Arditya. The Jakarta Post, Jakarta - 23/11/2010
Many residents were irked by the decision of the city administration to begin repairing a number of main thoroughfares, which involves digging up and closing the roads, right in the middle of the wet season.
"Did not they think the work would worsen the already bad traffic in the area?" quipped Cecilia Putri Agustioko, 24, who works at an office on Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta.
Cecilia went on to complain that the worsening traffic had taken up more of her time during rush hours even when she rides her motorcycle from her home in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
"It must be even worse for motorists who drive," she told The Jakarta Post.
Rindu Ragilia, 26, who takes public transportation to her office on Jl. Kebon Sirih, voiced a similar concern.
She said that due to the repair works, afternoon traffic had become more frustrating.
"They start a project in an area where the citys traffic jams are centered," she said.
Some of the work is part of the City Public Works Agencys project to dredge and widen a number of underground sewers, including the ducts that cut through Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Sabang and Jl. Jaksa.
Similar work is also being done in areas like Jl. Rasuna Said in South Jakarta, Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta in West Jakarta and Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur in Central Jakarta, all known for congestion.
Head of the Citys Public Works Agency Ery Basworo told the Post thatthe agency was not to blame for all the mess, saying it was how the bureaucracy works.
"After the budget for our proposed projects is approved in January, we need to wait for the tenders to be completed in August or September before we can sign contracts with the winners of the bids," he said.
The wet season usually starts in September and reaches its peak fromDecember to March.
For 2010, the city administration has earmarked Rp 1.7 trillion (US$190.4 million) for construction and repair projects conducted by the Public Works Agency.
Among the agencys main projects are the Angke flyover in North Jakarta and Kalibata Bridge in South Jakarta.
Data from the Finance Ministry reveals that bureaucratic red tape has resulted in more than 35 percent of local budgets being spent in the first half of the fiscal year, less than the expected 50 percent.
In the past five years, local administrations, including Jakarta, have only been able to spend an average of 90 percent of their budgets, and a spending spree regularly occurs at the end of the year.
The government is trying to solve the problem by revising regulations related to the procurement of goods and services, construction services and state budget management.
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono said earlier this year that the revised regulations were expected to come into effect for next years budget.
Ery said that the revision would allow the Jakarta administration to hold tenders early in the year and start its projects sooner.
It appears that Cecil, Rindu and all Jakartans will have to bear with the snarling traffic a bit longer.