Minister of Home Affairs Issues Landmark Directive to Combat Air Pollution in Jakarta Metropolitan Area

Jakarta's air quality continues to deteriorate (photo: antara foto - Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

In an unprecedented move to confront the escalating air pollution crisis in the Jakarta Metropolitan Area (Jabodetabek), Minister of Home Affairs, Muhammad Tito Karnavian, has issued a comprehensive directive of utmost significance. Termed officially as the Instruksi Mendagri (Inmendagri), this directive outlines a multifaceted and robust strategy aimed at effectively controlling air pollution within the regions encompassing Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi.

The Inmendagri represents a meticulous and considered set of guidelines that are to be rigorously adhered to by local authorities. This directive extends its purview to include the Governors of DKI Jakarta, West Java, and Banten, as well as the regents and mayors within the broader Jabodetabek area.

The directive unfolds a holistic approach that encompasses a diverse array of measures, all designed to mitigate the adverse effects of air pollution.

These measures span from the implementation of a hybrid working system to the regulation of motorized vehicles, the enhancement of public transportation services, stricter emissions testing, the optimization of mask usage, environmental emission control, the integration of green solutions, and the effective management of industrial waste.

Safrizal ZA, the Director-General of Regional Administration Development at the Ministry of Home Affairs (Kemendagri), expounded on the pivotal role of Inmendagri Number 2 of 2023.

He emphasized that this directive is a direct response to the guidance provided by President Joko Widodo during a restricted meeting that centered on improving air quality in the Jabodetabek region. This meeting convened on August 14, 2023, and marked a significant turning point in addressing the region’s air quality crisis.

Of paramount importance is the directive’s call for local authorities to adapt their policy frameworks to incorporate a hybrid work system. Under this framework, the goal is to have approximately 50 percent of civil servants in regional agencies, state-owned enterprises (BUMN), and regional-owned enterprises (BUMD) alternate between “work from home” (WFH) and “work from office” (WFO). This allocation, however, does not apply to those engaged in direct public services or essential functions.

Furthermore, the directive urges local governments within the Jabodetabek region to proactively promote WFH and WFO among employees in the private sector and businesses. This, importantly, aligns with the relevant policies set forth by institutions and businesses.

The rationale underpinning the WFH and WFO policies is to curtail mobility patterns that contribute significantly to air pollution. Given that a substantial portion of the population relies heavily on motorized vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles, for their daily commutes, reducing unnecessary travel holds immense potential to alleviate the problem.

Safrizal underscored the vital importance of not only restricting motorized vehicles but also optimizing the utilization of mass transit and public transportation systems. Encouraging the adoption of non-emission or electric vehicles is central to this strategy. Data unequivocally underscores that transportation and industrial activities remain principal contributors to the ongoing air pollution challenge faced by the Jabodetabek region.

Inmendagri extends its instructions to local governments, mandating the strengthening of vehicle emission testing programs, intensification of monitoring efforts, and active promotion of incentives tailored to non-emission or electric vehicle users. Additionally, it calls for the dissemination of information concerning incentives such as exemptions from odd-even traffic restrictions and priority parking or reduced parking fees for electric vehicle owners.

To address environmental emissions and promote eco-friendly solutions, local governments are strongly encouraged to enact regulations that curtail open waste burning, manage pollution arising from construction activities, employ effective street cleaning to mitigate dust, actively engage in greenery initiatives that involve public spaces and narrow urban areas, explore the implementation of water curtains or green curtains, and even delve into the realm of weather modification by inducing artificial rainfall.

Nevertheless, Safrizal emphasized that the effective management of air pollution in the Jabodetabek region necessitates not only the strict adherence of local authorities but also the synergized efforts of the Regional Leadership Coordination Forum (Forum Koordinasi Pimpinan Daerah or Forkopimda).

Furthermore, optimizing the role of the Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) in the enforcement of local regulations pertaining to air pollution control is seen as an indispensable component of this multifaceted strategy.

The Inmendagri directive, as of August 22, 2023, marks the commencement of a concerted effort, subject to a predetermined timeline that will undergo periodic evaluation to ensure the efficacy of the policies set in motion.