Jakarta Police cling to staggered working hours plan despite scepticism

The Jakarta Police proposed a similar scheme last year, suggesting that some office workers start at 10 or 11 a.m. or even come later.


Vehicles head toward the city center during the morning rush hour in Jakarta on Nov. 30, 2022.(AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

July 11, 2023

JAKARTA – The Jakarta Police have continued to advocate for staggered working hours to alleviate Jakarta’s perennial traffic woes, even after failing to convince workers and employers to alter their schedules last year.

Asked about his strategy to address traffic in the capital on Monday, Jakarta Police traffic director Sr. Comr. Latif Usman said he was still waiting for the Jakarta administration’s decision on staggered working hours.

“It is a good program aimed at having the public move more safely and comfortably in the city. That’s why authorities are conducting research and evaluation on its feasibility,” Latif said, as quoted by Antara.

In May, acting Jakarta governor Heru Budi Hartono suggested that private office workers divide their start times between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., claiming that the adjustment could reduce morning traffic by at least 30 percent.

The Jakarta Police proposed a similar scheme in July of last year, suggesting that some office workers start at 10 or 11 a.m. or even come to their workplaces in the afternoon or night.

The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) and the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) both opposed the plans, claiming that such arrangements would disturb the biological rhythms of employees and reduce their productivity at work. They also claimed that shifting working times just a few hours apart would have little impact on traffic.

In February, Jakarta Transportation Agency head Syafrin Liputo said city officials would not impose any staggered working hours and would leave employers and employees to decide working schedules.

But Jakarta Police traffic director Latif said on Monday that although the proposal had drawn mixed responses from the public, almost 85 percent of stakeholders who attended a focus group discussion reviewing the plan’s feasibility last week had supported the strategy.

“Of course there will be pros and cons to the strategy, but at the end of the day it’s [acting] governor Heru who decides whether to impose staggered work hours or not. The policy can be implemented as mere advice for employers or as a requirement,” he said.

With more than 22 million motorized vehicles traveling the city’s roads and millions more commuting from surrounding satellite cities every day, Jakarta has long struggled with severe traffic.

Dutch location technology company TomTom ranked Jakarta as the world’s fourth-most-congested city in 2017. Last year, Jakarta ranked 29th on the list.

Since his appointment in October of last year, Heru has sought to address Jakarta’s traffic issues, including by closing 32 U-turn points and installing 20 AI-controlled traffic lights to optimize vehicle flow.

Transportation experts have expressed doubt that staggered working hours could significantly reduce the city’s chronic congestion. Some have pointed to the ineffectiveness of a similar policy that moved the city’s school start time from 7 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in a bid to ease morning rush hour traffic.

They also say AI-powered traffic lights and other forms of traffic engineering serve only as stop-gap solutions. Improving the public transit system, many contend, is the most effective way to fix the city’s perennial traffic problems.

Some analysts have called on the city to introduce policies such as more widespread electronic road tolls and higher parking fees to deter the use of private vehicles. (nal)

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