Urban-based societies are generally considered civilizations. Perhaps Indonesia urbanized too quickly, concerning Jakarta it is Dante’s inferno that first comes to mind. The streets of Jakarta are a paradise, though, around midnight. Then it is a sheer pleasure to drive around this nocturnal city of concrete asphalt and multifarious lights. Take a joyride: roll the windows down, feel the wind and hear P.J.Harvey sing from ‘Stories from the city, stories from the sea’ – We wanted to find love/We wanted success/Until nothing was enough/Until my middle name was excess/And somehow I lost touch/When you went out of sight/When you got lost into the city/Got lost into the night.
Recently I bought a map of Jakarta. To my surprise, the only green areas indicated are Monas, Senayan sports complex, a few cemeteries and some golf courses (quite a few actually). Nature has been colonized. So how many more toll roads and flyovers can this city absorb? With how much more asphalt can the city be flooded?
Henry Ford (1863-1947) was the founder of Ford Motor Company. The Model T was in 1908 the first mass produced car (sociologists call this mode of production Fordism). Ford wanted every one to buy a Ford, simply because he wanted to make as much money as possible. We have become acquainted with the idea that if we can afford it we can buy a car. We should not forget, though, that Ford did not create the right to privately own an automobile.
Can we imagine our city devoid of combustion engines? Can we phase out private ownership of automobiles and motorcycles in Jakarta while at the same time making public transportation efficient, flexible, cheap and clean?
(The driver of the photographed vehicle died in the crash.)