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Indonesia: Air pollution problem

August 22, 2023

Civil servants and students in the capital Jakarta (Indonesia) will work from home for 2 months - as the government finds ways to solve air pollution.
The above move is aimed at limiting the serious air pollution that has besieged this city of 10 million people in recent months

Jakarta has consistently ranked among the world's 10 most polluted cities since May, according to data compiled by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir. Accordingly, Jakarta and surrounding areas have regularly recorded PM 2.5 fine dust pollution levels many times higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization, far exceeding other seriously polluted cities such as Riyadh ( Saudi Arabia), Doha (Qatar) and Lahore (Pakistan)

Head of the Jakarta Communications, Information and Statistics Agency, Sigit Wijatmoko, said the city will begin applying a remote working policy for 50% of employees this week until October 21.

The above requirement will only apply to civil servants who do not directly serve the people. "We will ensure that the remote working system will not affect community services," Mr. Wijatmoko affirmed.

Traffic during morning rush hour in Jakarta on August 21, the first day the government started a remote work plan for 50% of employees – Photo: AFP

About 200,000 workers are serving Jakarta's operating system, of which 30% are civil servants. Mr. Wijatmoko added that the remote working policy will continue to be expanded to 75% of civil servants working near the upcoming ASEAN summit venue.

The ASEAN Summit is scheduled to take place from September 5 to 7 at the Jakarta Convention Center in South Jakarta. The city will also require schools located around the conference venue to deploy distance learning for 50% of students during the above high-level meeting.

Schools located around the Thamrin-Sudirman and Menteng areas in central Jakarta, as well as Kuningan in South Jakarta, will be affected by this policy. Students can return to school after the summit ends.

In addition to remote working and learning, the Jakarta government is also working with the central government to increase efforts to control vehicle emissions in the city.

The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry conducted emissions testing on all employee vehicles. This inspection will be applied to all vehicles entering the ministry's office in South Jakarta.

Earlier this week, the Minister of Environment and Forestry announced that Siti Nurbaya Bakar Jakarta police would conduct random checks on vehicles operating in the capital. If the vehicle does not meet standards or has never had an emissions test, the vehicle owner will be heavily fined.

The Indonesian government is also planning to require emissions testing as part of the vehicle registration permit application process.

Jakarta currently has more than 24.5 million vehicles in circulation, with millions of vehicles traveling from neighboring cities every day. Research from 2019 by the Jakarta Environment Agency and Vital Strategies found that motor vehicle emissions are the largest source of pollution in the capital, contributing to up to 57% of pollution during the dry season.

To limit this source of pollution, Jakarta since 2020 has required owners of motor vehicles in operation for more than 3 years to perform annual emissions testing. But only 10% of vehicles in Jakarta comply with the above regulations.

On the other hand, the governments of the satellite cities do not have similar regulations, although all vehicles traveling to, in or through Jakarta are subject to the city's mandatory emissions testing regulations.

To minimize the health impact of pollution, the city of 10 million people has increased preparedness at medical care facilities to face the influx of patients with respiratory diseases.

Jakarta Health Agency Acting Director Ani Ruspitawati said Jakarta has more than 200 community health centers and 300 hospitals to treat people with respiratory diseases.

Residents have reported worsening health conditions in recent weeks as the city recorded "unhealthy" levels of PM2.5 pollution. PM2.5 is a type of fine dust that enters the airways. and causes respiratory problems.

Some pulmonologists also said they had received more patients with acute respiratory infections as the city's pollution increased.

Each month this year, the city recorded about 146,000 cases of respiratory diseases. This is similar to levels recorded in 2018 and 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improving air quality is one of the goals that the Jakarta Metropolitan Government is trying to promote. Most recently, authorities announced plans to build 23 new parks to improve air quality in this city.

Air pollution in Jakarta is mainly caused by emissions from vehicles and surrounding industrial and production zones. Besides building more parks, the government is also introducing electric buses. Traffic control is also being carried out.

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