The following link provides a piece of news regarding the resistance of residents of Pondok Indah -an upscale neighborhood in South Jakarta to Jakarta administration's plan to build the Lebak Bulus-Harmony busway corridor through the main thoroughfare in their neighborhood.
The Jakarta Post - The Journal of Indonesia Today
The case reveals that the plan of Lebak Bulus-Harmony busway corridor is still premature. It also demonstrates that planning process in Jakarta needs to more involve residents who are directly affected by the plan. Planning as a systematic attempt and actions in the public domain to shape the future is best implemented when all stakeholders including residents are involved.
The planning practice in the 21st century is facing greater challenges than that in the 20th century. Some of the challenges are the complexity of the problems and the elusiveness of solutions to those problems. A better way of shaping the future of the community is no longer primarily based on the sense of order, comprehensibility, predictability and rationality that prevailed in the modernist era. The postmodernist era in the 21st century requires more communicative aspects of planning practice.Recent planning practice requires planners to more actively communicate information and ideas to the many people and stakeholders with whom they interact and receive information and ideas in return.
Let me cite a complaint of a Pondok Indah resident as follows:
"The construction of the busway lane through Jl. Metro Pondok Indah will destroy
the green lanes and the trees ... The construction of the busway passing through
the main street will harm our environment, causing air pollution and traffic
And here is the response from the head of the traffic management division of Jakarta's transportation agency:
"The median strip was designed to be demolished in the event of work to widen
the road. It was supposed to be temporary in nature ... We will not destroy the
trees. We can replant the trees anyway if we cut them down."
Another Pondok Indah resident responded, "That's impossible. Where do they want to plant them? Up on a mountain? There'll be no space left after the construction." Moreover, several Pondok Indah residents sent an official letter asking for support from the City Council on Monday. The residents suggested two alternatives to the current plan: moving the two-line corridor to Jl. Ciputat Raya, or making the planned corridor terminate at the Blue Mosque at the Pondok Indah Mall cross road. They argued that passengers can use feeder buses to transport them to and from the Lebak Bulus bus terminal.
In response to Pondok Indah residents' alternative plan, the head of the traffic management division of Jakarta's transportation agency argued that feeder buses would not have a large enough capacity to transport passengers from Lebak Bulus. Both lanes of busway corridor VIII will pass through Jl. Metro Pondok Indah and the city administration will start the construction of corridor VIII this month and is aiming to finish by early 2008. Moreover, Governor Sutiyoso asserted that those opposing the busway idea must be the rich and he prioritize the interests of the majority over the minority in Pondok Indah."
Collaborative decision-making process is not an expensive process. In American cities, it is very common to have public meeting in the planning process. There are a variety of ways to invite public to attend public meeting including notices in local newspapers, invitation letter to various stakeholders, fliers and notices in city's website. In most cases, public meeting is held more than once. This is to accomodate heterogeneity of stakeholders' interests and complexity of the planning issue. This is -indeed- a challege for planning practice in Indonesia including in the case of busway corridor plan in Pondok Indah Jakarta. There must be a public hearing as a way for the city authority or planner to communicate the plan to the residents and a way for residents to communicate their input to the city authority or planner. The public hearing will mark the beginning of the process of collaborative decision-making.
A plan should not an imposition from city authority to fellow residents. Instead, a plan should be a way to shape the future that will greatly benefit current and future residents. A plan produced merely from the rationality of planners without collaboration with other stakeholders is a premature product. A credible plan should be the product of a collaborative decision-making process that respects interests of various stakeholders including residents affected by the plan. The plan of Lebak Bulus-Harmony busway corridor that disrespects the interest of residents of Pondok Indah is premature and should be revisited. The city authority and planners should collaborate with residents and other stakeholders to produce more credible plan of busway corridor.
(This article also appeared at The Jakarta Post on September 19, 2007)