15 November 2008
Bajaj and Kancil
I usually take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to work in the morning and again in the evening to get home. It is fast compared to other modes of transport as motorcycle riders are as crazy as everyone else on Jakarta's roads. So, weaving in and out of traffic is the norm here. If you ever need to test your bravery or courage levels, then taking a ride on an ojek would be one way of finding out.
Anyways, this post is not about ojeks but about bajajs (pronounced ba-jay -- first photo) and there planned replacements the kancil (second photo). A bajaj is simply a three-wheeled 2-stroke motorcycle with a covered passenger compartment at the back. These are supposed to be being phased out and replaced with a new gas-powered traffic nightmare known as a kancil.
This replacement plan has sort of been happening but not really happening since 2001. The biggest hindrance to the replacement program is the cost of the new kancils. The new kancil price is set somewhere between IDR 20 and 30 million. A bajaj driver would be able to trade in his bajaj and get IDR 7.5 million for the trade. This would then be used as a down payment on the kancil.
In theory this sounds like a pretty good deal. If you are managing to pull in somewhere between IDR 30,000 and IDR 50,000 per day before expenses then it is going to be some time before you get out of the credit death trap. Nevertheless, most bajajs are not owner-operator deals but rather businesses that own 10, 15, 20, or however many bajajs and hire them out and take a rental fee.
This brings me to the real reason for this post. On my way to work yesterday I really noticed the number of bajajs polluting the city and how bad this is for my health and the sweet-smelling aroma that permeates my clothes. The downside of taking an ojek to work is that it is a dirty business. Jakarta is dusty and polluted place and the bajajs add to this. I arrived at work smelling like I had just mowed the lawn. This is the unfortunate bonus of being caught in traffic behind a bajaj spewing out rancid 2-stroke fumes.
For a government that talks a good talk about cleaning up the city and ridding it of bajajs in an attempt to reduce pollution, some estimates suggest that pollution in Jakarta could be reduced by up to 25% if you got bajajs off the roads, it does not walk a good walk. The government needs to subsidize the program because any outlay that it makes now will be more than made up for in future health costs and care savings that pollution-related respiratory illness and other illnesses would give rise to.
I could continue to rail on my other issues like the non-existent emissions tests that are supposed to get polluting vehicles off the roads. Perhaps that is a post for another day.