Air Pollution is Also Caused by Coal-Fired Power Plants
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE air pollution in Jakarta is only getting worse. Policies such as work from home, emission testing for motor vehicles, and spraying large roads have not alleviated pollution. According to the IQAir app, Jakarta’s air pollution as of August 22, was at 147 and continued to rise in the following days to 151, 156, 161, and 167. These numbers show that Jakarta’s air is already a threat to health.
According to Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, the way to decrease air pollution is for people to shift from using private vehicles to public transportation. And when it comes to private transportation, people have to make the switch from fossil fuel to electric vehicles. “We aim for almost everyone to use electric vehicles in 2035,” Budi told Tempo in his official residence on Thursday, August 24.
President Joko Widodo launched the Light Rail Transit (LRT), which connects Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, and Bekasi on Monday, August 28. The train complements existing mass transportation, namely, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Transjakarta buses, and the Jakarta-Bandung fast train scheduled to begin operating on October 1 this year.
In an interview that lasted around one and a half hours, Minister Budi Karya explained the government’s strategy to overcome air pollution in Jakarta, from the MRT’s phase 2 and 3 development to the fast train’s construction.
In a cabinet meeting on Monday, August 14, the president and ministers discussed solutions to mitigate air pollution. What were the results?
Heru Budi (acting Jakarta Governor) and Siti Nurbaya (Minister of Environment and Forestry) gave presentations. The president was very concerned with this environmental issue, especially in Jakarta. We looked at the parameters that point to Jakarta’s pollution as the highest. That was the opinion of several people. But, without saying whether that is correct or not, the president still sees pollution as a danger to health.
What is the main source of pollution?
Siti says the transportation sector. But some data says that’s not it. I don’t want to argue about that. What’s important is that we, alongside the governor, are working on it. The vehicle population is crucial. We will take several steps. One, is work from home (WFH). Two, strengthen emission testing. Besides that, creates artificial rain. We know that, besides vehicles, the cause of pollution is coal-fired power plants as well as the long dry season, so artificial rain is necessary to neutralize their effects.
And according to the Transportation Ministry, what has caused pollution?
I have the Transportation Policy Body (BKT). I’ve asked them to survey. We will also enlist several universities in our studies. These studies take time. It’s not that we’re denying the pollution, but we want the facts of what is happening and we’re also trying (to mitigate it).
How much has the WFH (policy) been able to reduce pollution?
WFH directly correlates with the number of vehicles in traffic, so of course, pollution will decrease. During extreme WFH in the COVID-19 pandemic, our sky was clear, apart from having the odd-even number license plate regulation. There’s a recommendation to extend the odd and even number policy to all of Jakarta. But that’s only a suggestion.
What about emission testing for vehicles?
Quantitatively, I can’t say. But just using logic, emission testing operates on one standard for the whole country. We will strengthen it. We’re even thinking about emission testing as a requirement to extend vehicle registration. We’re only starting to create the regulation.
Meaning, according to the government, transportation has been the greatest contributor to air pollution?
Among others. In Jakarta, there are many companies, malls, and offices using generators. They result in pollution. The cabinet meeting recommended asking PLN (state electricity company) to lower its tariff. But they’re already overextended even now.