Jakartans struggle to cope with city’s air pollution

Jakartans struggle to cope with city’s air pollution


Despite its poor air quality, many people living in Jakarta choose – or perhaps have no choice – to stay in the capital. -Jakarta Post/ANN
Tue, Apr 16, 2013
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

INDONESIA – Despite its poor air quality, many people living in Jakarta choose – or perhaps have no choice – to stay in the capital.

After leaving Jakarta for Bali for about a year for work, Devi Agustina, who moved back to the capital earlier this year, could not ignore the deteriorating quality of the air in Jakarta. “After living in a place like Bali, you realise how much you lose while living in Jakarta,” she told The Jakarta Post recently. “I miss Bali’s blue skies every time I see Jakarta’s polluted air.”Quin Robert, an Australian student who regularly visits Jakarta to do his research, notices the difference between the air qualities in Jakarta and other cities he usually visits.

“When seeing Jakarta’s sky upon my arrival, I thought it was going to rain or it was fog [..] but then I realised I was in Jakarta and that must be pollution,” he said, adding that he always tried to avoid being outdoors for too long.

Devi says she has no choice but to survive Jakarta’s poor air quality.

“I did try using masks while moving around the city like many people here in Jakarta, but I couldn’t really breathe normally. I try not to be outdoors when not necessary. I also wash my face and clean my nose using wet tissues frequently,” she said.

Damayanti Sucipto from the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists Association (Perhati-KL) said that wearing masks would help city residents reduce the impact of air pollution.

“Masks help filter bacteria and dust. They won’t totally protect us but we can always rely on medical masks,” she told the Post, adding that nasal rinsing was also helpful.

Jakarta is among the megacities of the world whose air pollutants exceed WHO health protection guidelines.

According to the WHO’s air quality guidelines released in 2006, the particulate matter (PM10) parameter should not exceed 50 g/m3 in 24 hours and remain below 100 ug/m3 for eight hours for the Ozone (O3) parameter.

A report by the Community for Leaded Gasoline Eradication (KPBB) in July last year indicated that air pollution in the capital was relatively high in particulate parameters.

For Jakarta, the city administration has set 150 ug/m3 for the PM10 parameter. Although the pollution levels in the city are low in certain areas as per the agency’s standard, other areas slightly exceed the WHO guideline numbers.

The current administration of Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is keen to add more green spaces in the capital. The governor has promised to increase green spaces during his first five-year term from its current level of 10 per cent to at least 20 per cent of the city’s 662-square-kilometer area.

Mukri Friatna of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said that motor vehicles were to blame for the worsening air quality in the capital.

“Emissions from motor vehicles contribute 70 per cent to air quality degradation, the highest factor compared to other emission producers such as factories, airplanes and households,” he said. Mukri said that at least 5 million vehicles used Jakarta’s streets every day.

He called on the city administration to evaluate the maximum amount of emissions that could be released into the air.

“Bylaws set it at 0.5 ppm [part per million] in 2011. It’s time to reduce that,” he said, adding that the administration should also evaluate the capital’s current environmental capacity.

Mukri pointed out that city could not rely on the Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) alone to improve the environment quality.

“It is an effort which should involve the city administration and the Jakarta Legislative Council because recommendations [from the agency] will mean nothing if they aren’t followed by legally binding regulations,” he said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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