Jakarta workers, employers object to staggered office hours

More than 20 million motorized vehicles travel Jakarta’s roads and millions more commute from its satellite cities every day.

Nina A. Loasana

Nina A. Loasana

The Jakarta Post


Vehicles travel on busy roads in Jakarta on March 29.(AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

October 31, 2022

JAKARTA – The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) and the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) have voiced their disapproval of the Jakarta administration’s plan to impose staggered working hours to alleviate the city’s chronic traffic issues.

KSPI chairman and Labor Party chairman Said Iqbal has expressed concern that the arrangement will disturb employees’ biological rhythms and reduce their productivity at work.

“Furthermore, most workers in Jakarta live in the satellite cities. This means that those who have the earliest morning session might not be able to take their children to school while those who start work later might come home too late at night,” Said said in a statement on Wednesday.

Said also noted that altering office working hours might be especially difficult for workers in export-oriented companies as they were expected to deliver their products at particular times. It would also, he claimed, make interactions between companies and their overseas counterparts more difficult.

Apindo chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said he was skeptical about the staggered hours scheme’s effectiveness at reducing traffic congestion, claiming that shifting working times only a few hours apart would have little impact on traffic.

“Even Jakarta’s odd-even license plate policy, which aims to cut the number of private vehicles on certain thoroughfares by 50 percent, could not ease congestion in the capital. I don’t think altering working schedules by a couple of hours will have a significant impact on rush hour traffic,” Hariyadi told The Jakarta Post.

The scheme, he added, did not address the root cause of Jakarta’s persistent traffic woes – that there were simply too many vehicles for the roads to handle.

Instead of staggering working hours, Hariyadi argued, it would be much more effective if authorities improved the city’s public transportation system so that more private vehicle users would switch to public transportation.

“The administration could increase the capacity and add more fleets to city buses and trains to prevent overloading and crowding during rush hours and to make commuting more comfortable,” he said.

Traffic troubles

The Jakarta Police have been advising the city administration to alter office working hours since July to complement the odd-even license plate policy already in place on 25 major thoroughfares in the capital.

Jakarta Police traffic director Sr. Comr. Latif Usman said in July that the main cause of Jakarta’s severe rush-hour congestion was office workers leaving at the same time.

“If some workers start their morning session after peak commuting times, maybe at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., or even change their schedule to the afternoon or night, we would be able to greatly reduce traffic during both the morning and evening rush hours,” Latif said.

Jakarta Transportation Agency head Syafrin Liputo said the city administration had met with policy experts, business associations and other stakeholders to discuss the staggered scheme and would hold an open discussion next week to seek public comment on the plan.

More than 20 million motorized vehicles travel Jakarta’s roads and millions more commute from its satellite cities every day.

In 2017, Jakarta ranked as the fourth most congested city in the world, according to Dutch location technology company TomTom. Its ranking has improved since, mainly due to the expansion and integration of public transportation and decreased traffic volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 2021 TomTom report ranked Jakarta as the 46th most congested city in the world. It ranked 37th in 2020 and 10th in 2019.

But as mobility slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels in response to low COVID-19 cases and easing restrictions, major congestion has returned to the capital.

According to TomTom data, average travel times during peak rush hours in the past seven days in Jakarta have been 71 percent longer than during the baseline, non-congested times. The figure was 18 percent higher than last year’s.

Ineffective solution

Transportation expert Djoko Setijowarno said that instead of imposing staggered working hours, the city administration should require companies to have some employees work remotely.

“Adopting staggered working hours would be not as effective as imposing a large-scale working from home policy for at least 25 percent of employees, which not only reduces traffic, but helps workers save money from commuting [less often],” Djoko told the Post.

Jakarta authorities have changed school start times from 7 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. in a bid to ease morning rush hour traffic. While the policy is still in effect, it has had little impact on congestion levels.

Djoko said imposing stronger deterrents on the use of private vehicles through electronic road pricing as well as expanding Jakarta’s transportation system to satellite cities would help ease traffic during rush hours.

“At least 20 percent of vehicles entering Jakarta every day are from the satellite cities, so expanding and integrating public transportation in greater Jakarta is very crucial to reducing traffic in the capital,” he said.

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