Lenny Tristia Tambun
Massive labor protests involving tens of thousands of workers paralyzed parts of Jakarta on Thursday as demonstrators demanded a higher minimum wage and an end to unfair labor practices.
Thousands of protestors gathered at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout before marching to Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta, choking traffic along Sudirman and Thamrin avenues, as well as Jalan Abdul Muis, Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat and Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.
Other workers protested in front of the legislative complex, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office and the Health Ministry, forcing officials to detour traffic.
“To alleviate the congestion caused by the labor protests, we, together with the Jakarta police traffic department, are calling on drivers to avoid protest locations and follow traffic diversions,” the Jakarta Transportation Office said.
Sr. Comr. Agung Budi Maryoto who heads the Jakarta Police operational bureau, said that 7,195 personnel were deployed to safeguard the protests and manage traffic.
“We’re also getting assistance from 47 female police corps members and about 500 members of the Indonesian armed forces,” Agung added.
Diversion included sending traffic from the north from Jalan Hayam Wuruk through Jalan Suryopranoto-Cideng-Tanahabang, or through Jalan Juanda-Veterani-Kathedral to avoid the palace area.
Cars coming from MH Thamrin and heading towards the palace were directed to turn at jalan KH Wahid Hasyim and go through Jalan Kebonsirih-Cideng Barat- Pranoto; they were also able to go through Jalan Kebon Sirih-M Ridwan Rais-MMT-Perwira, or go through Jalan Budi Kemuliaan-Tanah Abang Timur and Abdul Muis.
Traffic from Sudirman will have to turn into Jalan Telukbetung, while drivers heading toward the palace will be diverted into Jalan Wahid Hasyim and Jalan Agus Salim.
To avoid the protest at the Health Ministry, traffic from Gatot Subroto and Mampang will have to turn into Jalan Gilimanuk and travel through the Mega Kuningan area.
To avoid the attorney general’s office, vehicles coming from Jalan Sisingamangaraja will have to turn into Jalan Trunojoyo while those coming from Blok A will have to turn into Jalan Melawai.