It took me 90 minutes to travel 5.5 km last evening from Central Park Mall to Grand Indonesia in Jakarta and I was a full hour late to my meeting, but the inspiration I got being in the back of a taxi in Jakarta made it all worthwhile.
This is how the traffic looked on Google Maps 60 minutes into my journey. I was still 3.3 km away from my destination. Every major road and highway was as choked as a multiple-bypass heart patient’s coronaries.
My taxi driver took a detour via satellite and side roads and we were making good progress until we hit a massively jammed cross-intersection at a back alley. No one budged and no one else got to move for the next 10 minutes. We were all at an impasse, and my stomach growled its protest. Even my Jakarta taxi driver was exasperated.
A team of youths popped out from nowhere, and started tapping at windows and putting up a finger. My driver turned to me and spoke a string of Bahasa I didn’t comprehend. I understood enough and nodded my head. He wound down his window and handed a youth a IDR 1,000 note (S$0.13). The team got into action and started an intervention. We were through in less than a minute. I took a video of our great escape.
I thought I’d learnt all I could from the back of a Jakarta taxi. There’s always money to be made if you have a keen eye for it, and this pack of Jakarta youths certainly taught me a lesson in human traffic shaping. It also gave me all sorts of ideas for solving the Jakarta vehicular gridlock.