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US State Department - Indonesia Technical Assistance

car-free Sunday morning in Downtown Jakarta
In September, 2015 Jim Charlier spent two weeks working with local governments and universities in Indonesia on urban transportation challenges and opportunities. This work was funded by the US State Department and coordinated by the US Embassy in Jakarta and the Consulate in Sumatra.

Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world by population, with 256 million people in 2015. It is the world’s largest Muslim majority nation, with about 88% of the population identifying as Muslim. It is also the world’s largest island nation, with over 17,000 islands, of which about 6,000 are inhabited. Indonesia is an important US ally in South Asia and a member of the G-20 major economies.

Jakarta, on the Island of Java, is the capital city, with a population of over 10 million people. The Jakarta metropolitan region (known as Jabodetabek) is the second largest metro region in the world, with 31 million people, and the largest metro in Southeast Asia. This qualifies it for mega-region status, along with Tokyo (38m), Delhi (25m), Manila (24m), Seoul (23m), Shanghai (23m), Karachi (22m), Beijing (21m) and New York City (21m).

Jim’s work in Indonesia involved technical assistance workshops for the municipalities of Jakarta (pop. 10m, Island of Java), Bogor (pop. 1m, Island of Java), Bandung (pop. 2.4m, Island of Java), Padang (pop. 900k, Island of Sumatra) and Bandar Lampung (pop. 900k, Island of Sumatra). He also conducted seminars for transportation planning, engineering and logistics/physical distribution classes at the Trisakti Institute of Transport Management (Jakarta), Bandung Institute of Technology (Bandung), and American Corner Andalas University (Padang).

Jim had been scheduled to conduct workshops and seminars in Palembang, in eastern Sumatra, but the forest fires started by licit burning of forests to create palm oil plantations caused air quality health concerns and airport visibility issues that led the Consulate to cancel that part of the itinerary.

The technical assistance work was widely publicized and attracted considerable media attention because of the tremendous issues Indonesia’s cities and metro regions face: rapidly growing population; rapid increases in per capita income leading to an explosion in motorbike and car ownership; and, lack of urban infrastructure. The term for this in Bahasa Indonesian (the official language of Indonesia) is macet, which generally means “traffic,” but carries with it the additional connotations of sudden, new phenomena that has taken over daily life. Jim’s broadcast and cable radio and television and webcast appearances included @America, Sindo Trijaya FM, and Padang TV.

High points of the experience included the car-free Sunday mornings in downtown Jakarta, the warm and friendly people of Indonesia, and the highly-competent, dedicated staff of the US Embassy and Consulate Medan.

US Embassy, Jakarta
BAPPENAS, the National Planning Agency
City/Province of Jakarta
City of Bogor
City of Bandung
City of Padang
City of Bandar Lampung
Lampung Province

Bandar Lampung with haze from illicit forest fires
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