0 Comments 22 January 2007 / by

since i came back to jakarta two years ago, there is one main subject that always and still remain a concern everytime i drive out of the house, yet i never really discussed it anywhere in my blog. it’s about traffic in jakarta!

i don’t know why, but i always try to avoid it.. cuz well,.. i don’t see any point that it will change to the better. and no, now that i decide to talk about it, it hasn’t changed! just got worse every day, i think so.

recently something happened while i was driving. the recent encounter has made me thinking… thus, me writing about traffic in jakarta.

there are lotsa differences about driving in jakarta or outside of indonesia, per say .. in america (since obviously this is the other country which i am still registered as a legal driver). for almost 9 years, i have a driver’s license in two different states, and learn a lot about how to drive properly. in the states, laws are properly held, and you must obey them cuz law enforcements do their job accordingly. there are very little room for you to break the laws of traffic, cuz not only you will be ‘watched’ by the traffic police (analog or digital, that is..), you will probably be yelled at or sneered at by other drivers when you break them.

people are so conscious about whatever they do on the road, cuz they totally understand that what they do on the road and behind the wheel might affect other drivers. while here, in jakarta.. the drivers couldn’t care less about other drivers, as long as they can get the piece of the road to drive on. hence, they would stop in the middle of the road cuz they got confuse whether to turn right or left. they would not let you cut them cuz simply they’re just freaking selfish!!

and this is just one of the big differences you’d find here. you see, when i came back to jakarta, there are tons of time that i’d rather go to the long way so that people behind me wouldn’t have to stop because i suddenly make a turn. but after a while, i realized, it’s just a waste of time, since people are doing it left and right.. and i ended up arriving late to anywhere i want to go.

though i always try to keep my proper driving sense, i have to blend in… in a way that i can take in order to compromise with the local habits. the only enemy i can’t seem to compromise with are the public transportation.. be it the bus, angkots or sometimes taxicabs. they would stop and pick up passengers at anywhere they like without considering that there are tons of drivers waiting behind them and caused a major traffic. but hey, i’m sure they think.. well, i gotta make money.. but all of yous are just going to work in your air conditioned cars!! it just never occur to them that we also gotta make money and to be at work at certain hours.. and the way they take on the streets the way they want it, might as well contribute the fact that we will coming late to work and causing our job in jeopardy (just a figure of speech.. 🙂..hehe). but hey, they wouldn’t care, would they? as long as they can get passengers, who cares about other drivers? very selfish-minded, right?

well, that’s how all drivers in jakarta think.. at least forced to be when on the road. otherwise, they will never get far…

on the other hand.. when you drive in the states, or maybe any other countries where laws are held accordingly, in order to get a driver’s license, we have to take written test and then the driving test (yes… just exactly like how it is here in may think?).. only it’s a must!! not just a formality. while on the road, it’s a big thing to always remember that your action on the road may affect other drivers. always make sure to give signal before make a turn or change lane. always turn your head when you change lane, so you would see your blind spot. always give way to people before you make turns in the intersection. always make a full stop at the stop sign. always give way to pedestrians at the crossings.. though, you are not allowed to give way to the jaywalkers. and at the same time, noone in their right mind would cross the street and try to stop the cars who are passing by… which i’m sure you see a lot here in jakarta. and that is just plain stupid. but on the other hand… if you watch closely, there are very little crossing bridges or pedestrian crossings here in jakarta.

though driving in new york is “almost” similar with driving in jakarta (keyword.. “almost” loh!.. along with its crazy cab drivers and traffic jam), people are always managed to drive in orderly manner. why can’t we do it here? again, it goes back to the laws.. as long as indonesians can bend the law, bribe the policemen, while the lawmakers and law enforcements don’t strongly enforced the laws (i guess, they’re just too busy counting the money… ha!), it will just stay the same.

i keep thinking.. is it our personality to be more selfish than those of europeans or americans? i mean, new yorkers are known to be very rude and very invidualized type, but they are not selfish. they will be helpful and nice to those in need of help, and always concern of others. but why, us, the easterners, whose culture shows the teamwork and close strong-bond community, are so selfish on the road? this is still a riddle to me.

what about traffic accidents? and i’m not talking about the big one.. just the small one, like a small bump or small crash on the road… here in jakarta, you gotta watch out for those “good samaritans” who tried to help but ended up extorting money for their ‘helping-hand’. again, in the states, well.. there may not so many good samaritans who would help you right away, but the help will come cause it’s part of the service from the traffic watchers & law enforcements.

recently, someone knocked my right-side mirror while i was driving in kemang. though the mirror was not broken, i was so pissed the way that person was driving.. cuz i was waiting patiently for my turn to make a left, while he cut off by going to my right. while fixing the mirror back to its position, i gave the guy a bitchy look. after a while i kept on seeing him giving me signals and waving at me (he was driving right behind me after i made the turn). but i ignored him. when i gave a signal to make a right turn, i saw he was making a left, but still insists that i should stop. but since i was in a hurry, i again ignored him. just when his car was right next to my car, he rolled down his window and waved two hundred-thousand rups bill and yelled “sorry.. sorry…” for knocking my right-side mirror. turns out he was trying to make me stop and pay for the damage. something i would never thought would ever be possible in the streets of jakarta.

ironically, he was not indonesian.. he was a foreigner! a foreigner driving like a goddamn-bus driver though with a bit of conscience, i guess. weird! but..what does that tell you?

:: sLesTa

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a worker by choice, a mother and a wife by nature / owner of / co-founder of the urban mama / the urban muslimah | email: slesta[at]slesta[dot]com

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