Jakarta OverPopulation?

Jun 22nd, 2010, in Opinion, by

Census figures unreliable, are Jakarta and Java are much less populated than is thought?


An Unreliable Census?

I'm a few years now in this interesting land, so I hope some credibility can be given to my possibily seditious ramblings to follow. Mainly, I don't believe there are over 140 million people residing on beautiful Java.

Evidence.......well let's start in Jakarta which I lived in for about a year. Traffic in the 'Big Durian' is undeniably horrendous during the rush hour. But this city is in my opinion a disaster in terms of urban planning and surfeit of anywhere approaching an adequate transport infrastructure.

Jakarta TrafficNorth-south this city requires to at least treble the current main arterial routes it currently has, at present all traffic is filtered into Jalan Sudirman/Gatot Subroto. Which is equivalent to a one horse town in my opinion.

The "jalan tikus" rat-runs only allow a temporary escape from this trapped pipe of road rage/numbing boredom. Manhattan has 11-13 equivalent routes bi-secting its narrow frame. What's more it's so difficult to get off these choked arterials, also added to the mix is a lack of overhead routes for those wishing to get from east-west across it, which means that an east-west journey of one mile "as the crow flies" can end up being 6 miles with an enforced detour via Semanggi roundabout.

There's no train network to offer relief, then there's bus-ways clogging up much of the limited viable road space, with the effect that Indonesia's capital feels much more crowded then it actually is.

Jakarta HousesMore evidence, is the fact that nearly all of Jakarta is a low rise city of bungalows with decent size gardens to the fore and back. These are residents of the middle classes not the wealthy, who have pitched half acre plots in Menteng/Pluit/Kelapa Gading and much of South Jakarta.

Yet more evidence comes from Menteng which I once got lost in at 9.00 at night and had to drive around for 15 mins to find a pedestrian to point me in the right direction. So where in Jakarta do the huge swarming mass that keep the corrupt awake reside?

Muara Angke is possibly Jakarta's most famous slum, and its tiny, no way there's more than 30,000 people there. The railway lines and the adjacent humble abodes are shockingly thronged with humanity, but apart from one area near Senen, there is no great mass of people here. The back streets of Kota can be heavily populated, but look at the larger houses adjacent to the narrow laneways. Sorry but parts of London/NY feel as populated to me.

I could go on and on....but what I'm saying is that the population of Jakarta and maybe much of western Java which I am also familiar with is wrong.

My clinching evidence that the census is an unreliable reading is that my friend was counted three times. Once in Depok, where she formerly lived - confirmed by her brother still living there, then in Palu, Central Sulawesi, where she had returned to assist her dying mother as confirmed by her father, and now in Manado where she has been resident for three months.

I can go on and on mentioning more examples of people who told me they were double counted, and analysing small towns in Java that supposedly have populations of two million in their hinterlands, but I'll leave my last example to Banten and its 9-10 million residents.

TangerangBanten supposedly has about 9 million residents north of the railway line to Rangkasbitung - there are not a million people resident south of this railway line, with much of the area given over to the dwindling Javan Badak and threatened Badui people. Thus that area to the north, roughly the size of greater London, but mainly made up of farms and coastal paddies, has the same population as one of the western world's most congested cities. Sorry can't believe there are that many people in Tangerang and Serpong.

Sorry I don't buy the population of western Java; and feel its deliberately distorted. If I'm right why would a legitimate government allow this practice, deliberate misleading?


37 Comments on “Jakarta OverPopulation?”

  1. avatar retarders says:

    If you can smell other people’s ketiak while you travel or having dengkul to dengkul contact when you go to WC, then yes… it’s overcrowded….

  2. avatar rustyprince says:

    Just completed a most enjoyable 10days motorbiking around East Java. Scenery absolutely awesome, the beaches are far better than Bali and easily rival Lombok’s Kuta. People absolutely great, hospitable with personality and I am truely convinced that centuries of Javanese endeavor etching out those rice-terraces and garden plantations has resulted in a landscape more aspiring than what nature untouched would have delivered.

    On the reliability of the census – can’t believe there’s a million in Lumajang and Bondowoso or 2million in Jember. I arrived expecting the major arterial routes to be dangerouly congested but only found this in the immediate environs of Surabaya and Jember. Side roads – rustic java is alive and well, especially pleasing are the graceful way the school girls cycle nonchlantly.

    Reccomendations, Pacet, Selecta/Batu, BaleKambang and Punama Pantai, Durian in Lumajang and arriving by M’bike at Bromo from Lumajang and seeing the – a bule cheated us – look on those punkish touristguides spoiling that piece of heaven.

    East Java – Thumbs Up

  3. avatar David says:

    Ah Rusty, I’m pseudo planning my ‘Easy Rider’ tour of Java presently, my original vague idea was to head from surabaya down to Pacitan, and thence westwards, but I really have little clue.

  4. avatar rustyprince says:

    The south coast from Blitar to Jember was a big hit with me. I missed out on Selingdan Biru – spelling! – but Pantai Balekambang and Punama were real gems and well worth bringing the family. There’s also the hidden gem of Konde Merah, gorgeous, near the former. Its 20mins down a very rough track, watch the limbs, and there’s an interesting character Eddie hiding out there from his ex wifes. Your ensured of a great laugh with him.

    Pacitan and Mere Beri – I think its called – the area south of Banyuwangi are the two districts I’ve missed out on but given how laid back the rest of the south coast is I’m definitely getting there soon. I think Pacitan has the added bonus of having the fiesty-est ladies on Java – Jupe?

    Coming out of Surabaya I found the countryside side of Mojokerto very picturesque. Pacet to the hot springs at Cangger is the quietest road in Java and the best Bakso is to be found a little further where the orchards begin. Stay in Selecta,near Batu with the enchanting outdoor-pool. Batu to Wringli very picture-esque. Loved all the side roads, DonoMulyo, Bantur, Kencong, Sendurno. The former is the idyllic road one takes out of Lumajang for Bromo. Love Ijen to.

    I was having such a good time and rang the m’bike owner for another 5 days rent, no go even when I said I’d pay more. I think it was unfathomable to this Surabaya honcho that anyone could be having such a awsome experience in Java and he thought I must have absconded with his motor to kuta, sanur or some mirror image of holiday hell.
    Enjoy

  5. avatar timdog says:

    Ah, a man after my own heart!

    Rusty – that Batu-Pacet road is, I think, my favourite in all Java – there’s a magnificent spot about two-thirds of the way down from Canggar where the road runs along a very narrow saddle, and there’s often a fantastic view across to Gunung Penanggungan to the east (which also happens to be my favourite mountain)…

    Mr David, if you’re heading out from Surabaya to Pacitan, I’d suggest not using the main highway (beyond Jombang it’s actually quite a nice road, but there are better options…

    A great road is the one from Batu past Selorejo, and then along the byways through the pineapple fields to Blitar – that’s Java at its finest, and great biking country.

    Pacitan is nice, and there’s a wonderful network of somewhat bumpy roads through the coastal hills south of the main Ponorogo-Trenggalek-Blitar road, which you can pick your way east along.

    Further east the main road passes through some awesome country between Malang and Lumajang, and you can branch south anywhere along the whole route to find beaches…

    At the far end of the island, if your bike’s got a healthy engine, a traverse of Ijen is great fun (though the road up from Banyuwagi is seriously rough and steep.

    The only genuinely drab and dreary bit of road in the whole province is the main north coast highway, but if you come in from the south, from Bondowoso, for example, on your way back to Surabaya you only need to spend a few hours on it. Might be making a bike trip somewhere in the province myself next week…

  6. avatar rustyprince says:

    Right-on Tim,inspirational vistas along that route to rival Tuscany and the best of Europe. Hey, I included that mention of Bakso mindful of your in-delicious opinions on Java’s staple diet which I usually share, but in this instance second servings were in order. Enakkk!

  7. avatar timdog says:

    I’ll keep an eye out for that bakso next time, rusty. I’m not completely averse to the stuff, and though I generally only eat it in an emergency (when it’s a toss-up between grimly grey bakso, or very old looking nasi padang, in some one-goat backwoods village), I retain open to the possibility of there being good bakso out there somewhere!

    When I take that road I generally eat somewhere further downhill. North of Pacet on the Surbaya/Krian road, where the land starts to level out, there’s this awesome warung lesehan, the name of which I’ve forgotten. It’s a very simple little place, made of bamboo, off the road to the left (heading north), but it does huge portions of everything, really fresh and tasty, and a good place to while away an hour before throwing yourself back into the maelstrom of Surabaya traffic…

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