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Rickety pedestrian bridges a danger zone JAKARTA - As the capital still lacks the pedestrian underpasses which are commonplace in many other metropolises around the world, crossing bridges are an essential means for Jakarta residents to make their way across hectic streets. There are 172 pedestrian overpasses serving hundreds of thousands of pedestrians, and hoards of vendors, every day.

People continue to use them despite the risk of being mugged. Unfortunately, many of the structures -- particularly those built in the early 1980s -- are in poor condition, with pedestrians risking injury if they fail to pay attention to what lies underfoot. The bridge near Blok M terminal and Plaza Blok M shopping center on Jl. Panglima Polim is an acute example of the aging and corroded bridges dotting the city. Udar Pristono, the head of the Traffic Management and Engineering Division of the City Traffic and Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ), which supervises the pedestrian bridges, said the city administration's budget was limited.

He said the office prioritized the bridges most in need of repair. "For the 2000 fiscal year, we can only afford to repair 13 bridges with a budget of Rp 250 million," Udar told The Jakarta Post in an interview on Monday. The repairs will cost between Rp 10 million and Rp 25 million each, depending on the extent of their damage. The bridges to be repaired are located on several main streets, including Jl. Cempaka Putih, Jl. Daan Mogot, Jl. Raya Bogor and Jl. Tubagus Angke. Udar disclosed that at least 26 aging bridges across the capital needed immediate repairs this year. The others, he said, could only be renovated next year with new budget allocations.

"We, of course, don't wait until someone falls off from a bridge to repair it," he said. The pedestrian bridges in Jakarta were built using two types of material: steel and concrete. Udar explained that a steel bridge cost about Rp 400 million, while the concrete construction entailed about Rp 950 million. Repairs of steel bridges usually occur every five years or so, except those located in the North Jakarta area, which is close to the Jakarta Bay. Upkeep is made every two years to three years in that area because the air is more corrosive than in other parts of the city.

Private money

Many new concrete and modern-designed pedestrian bridges went up in recent years in the capital thanks to funding by private parties, particularly businesses in the respective areas. Most of the bridges are equipped with translucent canopies, which Udar said cost about Rp 200 million each. He said 33 of the 172 pedestrian bridges in the capital were funded by the private companies. Privately sponsored bridges are found in the city's main thoroughfares, such as those located in front of Sarinah department store, in front of Plaza Indonesia shopping center -- both on Jl. M.H. Thamrin -- near Jl. Blora, and in front of Pondok Indah Plaza and Plaza Senayan shopping malls in South Jakarta.

Udar said private companies were allowed to build overpasses and use the structures for placement of promotional media within a period of five years before the bridges were handed over to the city administration. "When the bridges are still under the control of the developers, the latter could collect money paid by other companies who place advertisements there," he said.
"Later, after the five-year period, even the developers have to pay the city administration for their ads." In addition to the privately funded bridges, at least three structures here were built by a ministry and state oil and gas company Pertamina. Two concrete bridges on Jl. Dr. Wahidin and Jl. Dr. Wahidin 1 were financed by the Ministry of Finance in 1989. Both overpasses are located adjacent to the ministry complex. Pertamina constructed a concrete bridge near its complex on Jl. Teuku Nyak Arief in 1996.

A more innovative pedestrian bridge is located among the hustle and bustle of Mangga Dua shopping area. The private developer built the bridge to allow rental of space by traders selling different kinds of goods, particularly electronic games, cellular phones and textiles.

Udar said the city administration built three new bridges in the past two years, located on Jl. Pramuka, Jl. Senen Raya and Lapangan Roos near Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta. "This 2000 fiscal year, we are going to build two steel bridges on Jl. Pemuda in front of Ibnu Khaldun University and on Jl. Warung Buncit in front of Hero supermarket in South Jakarta, with a budget of Rp 400 million each," Udar said.

Despite the hard work of the authorities and private firms to build beneficial overpasses for pedestrians, the city administration must deal with the perennial problem of vendors who set up shop on the structures. The vendors usually display their goods on mats covering large parts of the bridge, leaving pedestrians to navigate their way around them.

City Bylaw No. 11/1988 prohibits vendors from operating in areas of traffic flow, including pedestrian traffic. The authority to put the vendors in their place, Udar said, lay in City Public Order Office's hands. "But in this time of hardship, the monetary crisis, we have to do it carefully," he said. Several vendors on the Sarinah bridge said no official passes were required for them to work on the bridge.

"I saw other vendors were on the bridge so I decided to trade here too," said Rizal, a socks vendor who began selling on the bridge about a year ago. "But I've never been disciplined by an officer nor asked for money." Ujang, who sells CD holders, agreed. "But if they did, or if someone takes my space, I simply move somewhere else." Udar lamented that his business was affected by people who chose to jaywalk instead of using the bridges.

Posted in General @ 21 April 2000 10:19 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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