Jakarta, with four-million people, is facing problems in trying to modernise the city's transport system.?
Jakarta, with four-million people, is facing problems in trying to modernise the city's transport system. Taxis are few and expensive; buses are old and overcrowded.
Still one of the most popular forms of transports in the Indonesian capital is the betjak -- a two-seater tricycle. For many people, they are the only transport around the city's sprawling suburbs or kampongs. And they are the only transport that many can afford.
Hearly one-million people rely on the betjaks. But the city government, under a plan started as long ago as 1958 and reinforced under the current administration of Governor Sadikin, is trying to eliminate them.
Officials say the betjak are a hazard on Jakarta's improved one-way road system which has speeded up traffic flow in the capital. The betjak are an enticement for poor Javanese farmers to migrate to the already over-crowded city.
Next year, betjak will be banned completely from Jakarta except for a few licensed to operate as a tourist attraction like the rickshaws of Hongkong and Singapore. In their place, the authorities are allowing motorised betjak.
The motorised versions are Italian motor-scooters carrying two passengers, three-wheelers specially make in Japan but now out of production in that country and a unit converted from a Japanese motorcycle.
While a pedal betjak costs only 100 dollars (US) to buy, the motorised versions sell for around 3,000 dollars (US) -- a price few Indonesians can afford.
And few people living in Jakarta can afford the cost of riding in the power models: three times as such for a short journey or ten times as much for a day's Hire.