‘It Was the Worst Traffic I Have Ever Seen in Jakarta’
Cameron Bates, Ulma Haryanto & Kinanti Pinta Karana
Jakarta. Jakarta Globe readers and Facebook and Twitter followers have shared their stories from Monday, when heavy rains brought Indonesia’s capital city to a grinding halt.
Office worker Edison Vincentius said a meeting he had scheduled for 3 p.m. at Wisma Mulia on Gatot Subroto was canceled due to “knee-deep floodwaters” outside the building so he attempted to drive home to Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta.
“It took me 2.5 hours to get to the traffic lights near Taman Anggrek Mall,” Edison said, “and that’s when my misery started.”
“The traffic didn’t move at all from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cars, motorcycles, buses, everything, were stuck. People simply turned off their engines because there was nothing they could do.”
He said floodwaters in front of Citraland and Indosiar television station were to blame.
“Busway corridor VIII stopped operating because the traffic was totally jammed from the direction of Tomang to the front of the Taman Anggrek Mall. Corridor III that connects Pulo Gadung and Kali Deres was the same. The busway lane could not be used because the road in front of Roxy [Mall] was inundated,” he said.
He said he was finally able to make it home at 12:30.
With persistent, medium to heavy rains again expected on Tuesday, Edison said he would be better prepared today.
“I will keep the meeting short, so we can return to the office immediately. I have also charged my phone. I have prepared snacks, drinks, hand-sanitizer, extra clothing, a plastic bag, raincoat, and empty bottles just in case I need to go to the bathroom on the road,” he said.
There were numerous other stories of workers being forced to walk from the central city to South Jakarta because of the near total gridlock and severed roads and busway lines.
Nurini Widowati told the Globe that she was one of many “thousands of victims” caught out, spending six hours aboard a public bus traveling from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to Planet Hollywood on Jalana Gatot Subroto.
“It was the most horrible traffic I’ve ever seen in the 10 years I have lived here in Jakarta,” Nurini said, adding that if her husband had not come to pick her up, it would have been dawn before she reached home.
“I do hope, that there is ‘something’ the government could do to avoid another tragedy. The sad thing is some people lost their lives because of the flood and the traffic.”
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo is yet to make a statement on the floods. During the time of the chaos, he was attending a United Nations Day celebration at the Sultan Hotel.
There are reports that at least one person was electrocuted in their home due to floodwaters, while at least one other student, Dian Nur Afrianti, 21, was swept away to their death. Reports said she was standing a bus shelter in South Jakarta when she was hit by a wall of water.
The electrocuted victim was identified as Dimas Bagus, 31. His brother, Oling, told the Globe that Dimas was killed as he attempted to move valuables out of his flooding home.
Rahma e-mailed the Globe to say that the traffic congestion was “the worst traffic jam that I ever experienced during my life in Jakarta,” which is quite some statement because he spends six hours every day commuting to work from his home in Tangerang.
He said during his seven-hour return journey home, he was confronted with a number of surreal scenes, including scores of broken down vehicles and even a drenched woman crying on the side of the road because she couldn’t get home. They were able to help the poor woman home, who appeared to be having a breakdown due to stress.
Vissy Pressia Arifin, who was raised in Jakarta but spent most of her adult life abroad, said in the 10 months that she had been back in Jakarta she could see why “so many people get depressed.”
She said she paid Rp 500,000 ($56) for a 6.5-hour cab fare from Kelapa Gading to Mampang.
Wita Waisnawan said Monday night was “really hell.”
He said he was forced to walk through floodwaters along Jalan Thamrin where his office was located to the Dukuh Atas train station, where the heavy rain had caused havoc with the signal lights, resulting in the cancellation of a number of services.
What was normally a one-hour trip became a five-hour ordeal, he said. “This city is no longer appropriate to live in or work in,” he said.
Mira, an engineer who works for city-owned water company PT Palyja, said it took her 5.5 hours to get from her office in Pejompongan, Central Jakarta, to her home in Ciganjur, South Jakarta.
Mira said she was left stranded after floodwaters severed the TransJakarta Busway corridor to Ragunan.
She said walked to Duren Tiga in the hope of catching a ride to Pasar Minggu bus station. “But when I got to Duren Tiga, I was stuck because the street was flooded. So I just stood there and I didn’t know what else to do,” she said.
Fortunately, a teenage boy on a motorcycle stopped and offered her a ride to Pasar Minggu, she said.
“He was wearing a senior high school uniform. I said ‘yes’ without thinking and he took me to Lenteng Agung. From there, I took a cab home and arrived at 10:30 p.m.,” Mira said, adding that she forgot to ask the boy’s name. “I like to believe that he’s an angel, I didn’t even see his face because he was wearing a helmet.”
Meliana Lumban Raja, writing on the Jakarta Globe Facebook, said the journey from Karawaci to Slipi took six hours.
Dina Begum, on the other hand, was not quite so put out. “I work at home so it was no problem for me,” she wrote.
This story is developing.