Why Caused the Pollution Crisis in Indonesia?

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In recent times, the sprawling metropolis of Jakarta, along with its surrounding cities, has found itself enveloped in a thick and persistent smog. 

This environmental crisis has cast a wide net, affecting even Indonesian President Joko Widodo, commonly referred to as Jokowi. He has grappled with a relentless cough for four weeks, a condition some believe may be attributed to the deteriorating air quality.

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, candidly shared his concerns with reporters, stating, “He [President Jokowi] has never felt like this.” The President’s own physician has also hinted at the connection between the worsening air quality and his ongoing health issues.

What Caused the Smog in Jakarta?

The issue of smog in Jakarta has long been a source of concern, both domestically and on the international stage. Recent weeks have seen Jakarta consistently ranking near the top of global pollution charts. The capital even earned the dubious distinction of being labeled the world’s most polluted city for several days, according to Swiss air quality technology company IQAir.

Historically, the government displayed limited urgency in addressing the air pollution problem. However, the convergence of various factors, including President Jokowi’s health condition, a surge in complaints on social media, and a physical protest staged in front of Jakarta City Hall, appears to have jolted authorities into action.

In a remarkable departure from past inaction, President Jokowi convened a high-level meeting with key ministers on a Monday that many believe marked a turning point in addressing Jakarta’s air pollution woes. During this critical meeting, a series of measures were unveiled, signaling a more proactive stance towards combating this crisis. 

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What is Indonesia doing about it?

These measures include the implementation of random emission tests for vehicles in Jakarta, with stringent penalties, including fines and license revocations, for those who fail these tests. While the specifics of how and when these measures will be rolled out remain somewhat unclear, the commitment to addressing the issue is evident.

Additionally, the government is actively considering introducing a pollution tax for vehicles and exploring weather manipulation programs aimed at inducing rainfall to clear the lingering haze. These initiatives, though still in the planning stages, represent a significant shift towards comprehensive solutions.

As we delve deeper into the underlying causes of Indonesia’s pollution crisis, it becomes increasingly evident that a concerted, multifaceted effort is needed to combat this pressing issue that not only affects the health and well-being of its citizens but also poses a significant threat to the environment as a whole. 

The recent developments signal a hopeful change in the government’s approach, offering a glimmer of optimism for Jakarta’s future.

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