What can a megacity like Jakarta do to tackle pollution and end gridlock?

Another day of gridlock on the streets of Jakarta. Image: Getty.

Action on mobility and climate need to be taken now. As one of the most congested cities in the world, Jakarta encapsulates the urgent need to find innovative solutions for mobility and climate change.

We sat down with Widya Anggraini, a Jakarta-based urban planner and community manager for urbanism forum urb.im, to gain some on-the-ground insights into Jakarta’s complex transport system.

NCF: What are the greatest challenges for urban mobility in a city like Jakarta?

WA: Firstly, the lack of reliable and safe public transportation and poor spatial planning policies. A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy illustrated that motorised vehicle ownership is growing over 9 per cent per year: more than 2,000 newly registered motorcycles and around 500 cars are joining Jakarta’s congested streets per day. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide affordable, reliable and safe public transport as well as to support policies that reverse the growing popularity of motorized vehicles.

NCF: Public transport in Jakarta is said to be one of the most dangerous in the world for women. How important is gender safety when planning and managing public transport?

WA: Gender perspective has not always been part of planning and managing public transportation in Jakarta. However, there has been a considerable improvement to strengthen public transportation safety and acknowledge women’s special needs.

This is due to the high number of sexual harassment cases on public transportation, with both trains and buses becoming overcrowded during peak times. The current suburban rail system has greatly benefitted women in Jakarta by providing dedicated women’s carriages. The same can be said for the new mass rapid transit system (Trans Jakarta).

However, these precautions for female safety have not been adopted by other Indonesian bus providers such as Kopaja. Thus these transport options continue to be unsafe for women.

In the future, there should be careful planning and consideration for women. This is because women in Indonesia have a double burden – employment and care work – so safe and fast travel is vitally important.

NCF: Which mobility solutions that combat climate change do you think can successfully be implemented in Jakarta?

WA: There are two alternative solutions that might work. Firstly, the use of non-motorszed vehicles should be promoted. This means that the government should start to encourage people to walk or to bike by improving pedestrian and bike lanes. 

Secondly, policies that discourage people to use cars and motorcycles could also be implemented. This could be done by adopting alternative policies such as congestion pricing for several busy main roads; increasing the fuel price for private vehicles; applying higher taxes for both car and motorcycles ownership; and changing the perception of people towards motorised vehicles. 

Above all, Jakarta needs good leadership and political will to ensure these policies take place.

NCF: What social implications can gridlock create in a city like Jakarta? 

WA: There are several social implications that gridlock could create in a city like Jakarta. These include increased stress and exhaustion from long hours spent commuting, and a severe loss of productive time due to the slow average speed of travel in Jakarta

There is also the increased air pollution that comes from motor emissions and higher energy consumption. Finally, large levels carbon dioxide in a congested city can have a hazardous health effect.

Widya Anggraini  is an urban planner with an economics and public policy background. She has worked for a city-planning agency in the areas of child protection, youth and civil participation, women’s empowerment, and good governance.

This week, the New Cities Foundation is hosting the New Cities Summit in Jakarta. This Q&A was originally posted on the foundation’s blog.

 
 
 
 

Renters in England can now sue landlords over mouldy, cold or noisy properties – if they can afford to

Those were the days: cold flats, 1934 style. Image: Getty.

A new law recently came into force, which gives tenants in England greater powers to hold landlords to account over homes which are difficult or dangerous to live in. Before these changes, landlords had only limited obligations to keep properties in good repair during tenancies, and as a result it’s estimated that almost 1m rented homes pose a serious risk to health and safety.

The law means that landlords leasing out properties for less than seven years must ensure the place is fit for people to live in at the beginning of the lease – and that it stays that way throughout the tenancy. The legislation covers a wide range of potential issues. For starters, homes must be stable, free from serious damp and mould and have adequate natural light and ventilation.

Tenants who face issues with their home’s state of repair, water supply, drainage or cooking facilities, will be able to use the law to push for repairs, if the problems are so bad that the home is deemed unfit for occupation. The law also protects tenants against hazards such as fire, overcrowding and pests.

Where homes fall below these standards, tenants can insist on repairs and claim damages for costs such as health problems or inconvenience caused by living in the property, damage to their furniture or the cost of temporary accommodation.

Left unprotected

These may seem like basic provisions, but previous laws gave tenants very little protection. Before the new act, provisions to ensure properties were fit for human habitation only applied to houses rented below a certain price: £80 per year in London, and £52 elsewhere, to be exact. These rent levels had not been updated since 1957, and given the cost of housing today, they effectively no longer applied.

The only really helpful obligation was section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which required the landlord of residential property, let on a short lease, to keep the structure and exterior and gas, electricity and water installations in repair.

But under section 11, the landlord need only repair the property where it has deteriorated from a previous better state of repair. They do not have to ensure that the property is fit for habitation or safe at all times during the tenancy.

Common problems such as mould and condensation are rarely caught by these provisions, even though they can damage furnishings and make tenants ill. In one case, the Court of Appeal decided that even though a house was “virtually unfit for human habitation”, the landlord could not be held responsible.

Residential tenants could, and still can, complain to the local housing authority about poor conditions. Under section 9 of the Housing Act 2004, the authority can carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection, which rates hazards in the tenant’s home according to how serious they are.

The difficulty with this provision is that the tenant must complain to the local housing authority, rather than take action directly against the landlord. Inspections, notices and enforcement action are uncommon and enforcement rates vary considerably between different councils. As local authorities cannot enforce the HHSRS standards against themselves, the standards are useless for council tenants.


Landlords’ new duties

Tenants can now take direct action in court when a landlord fails in his or her obligations, rather than relying on the local housing authority to prosecute. This applies to all new tenancies from March 20, 2019 – and to prior tenancies, if they’re still in place by March 2020.

The only think stopping tenants will be getting access to legal advice and representation. Legal aid is only available in the most serious cases, and there is a shortage in the number of housing lawyers.

Good landlords are unlikely to have any problem with the law, as it only requires them to provide the most basic standards, which are already enforced under the HHSRS.

The fire at Grenfell Tower showed the importance of giving tenants power to take direct action against their landlord – whether private or social – where there are legitimate concerns about housing safety. This new law finally enables them to do so.

The Conversation

Emily Walsh, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Portsmouth.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.