A Jakarta governor’s regulation requires vehicles to undergo emissions tests. Its implementation still requires a comprehensive plan. This is part one of a two-part story.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2022, a technician at the Astra Motor Center repair shop in Cawang, East Jakarta, had just finished showing The Jakarta Post how to perform an emissions test on a motorcycle. He measured pollutant levels using a sensor installed in the vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

The test results, in the form of digital data, are directly linked to the Jakarta Environmental Agency’s (DLH) emissions-inspection database. As long as the emissions level does not exceed the maximum threshold, a motorcycle owner will receive a certificate proving that the bike has passed the test. 

If a motorcycle fails an inspection, the technician will advise the owner to service the motorbike to reduce emissions. 

Although it only costs Rp40,000 (US$2.50), very few people take their motorcycle for an emissions test. Rendra Kusumah, the head of Astra Motor Center repair shop in East Jakarta, said this was in stark contrast to the situation before mid-November 2021. This was when the Jakarta Police planned to penalize motorists who failed to test their vehicle.

“We saw a drastic spike [in motorcycle emissions tests] after September 2021. At that time, between 60 and 80 motorbikes [were tested daily],” he said.

Following the indefinite postponement of this move, the trend has changed. “There has been a decline [since December 2021]. These days, two to three motorcycles are tested,” said Rendra.

Fluctuates: A graphic showing the total number of vehicles emissions test between January and November of 2022. Data courtesy of Jakarta Environmental Office. Illustration: Hengky Wijaya/The Jakarta Post

A similar situation occurred at the Nawilis car-repair shop in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. The shops’ head, Ardiana said only a few customers tested their car at the facility despite the affordable cost of between Rp150,000 and Rp200,000 for an inspection. 

“Before the sanctions were implemented in November 2021, our repair shop was swarmed by 70 to 90 cars daily. From December last year to [November 2022], there have only been one to five cars per day,” said Ardiana.

Lack of awareness, absence of sanctions

The transportation sector is the leading cause of air pollution in Jakarta. Research in 2019 carried out by the DLH and Vital Strategies found that the largest source of pollution in the capital city was vehicular emissions. These emissions contributed 32 to 41 percent of air pollution in the wet season and 42 to 57 percent during the dry season.

In 2021, a Central Jakarta court found President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the Jakarta governor negligent in an air pollution lawsuit. The court also ordered the defendants to, among others, implement periodic emissions inspections of older vehicles. 

One year before the ruling, the city government issued a regulation regarding emissions tests for motor vehicles (Pergub No. 66/2020) that requires owners of motor vehicles over three years old in Jakarta to undertake annual emissions tests.

An emissions test is essential so that owners know the pollution level produced by their motorized vehicle. This will prompt them to lower their emissions

Hazardous pollutants can adversely affect health. A recent report by Greenpeace titled Different Air Under One Sky: The Inequity Air Research shows that 93 percent of the population in Jakarta was exposed to particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) concentrations, more than five times the World Health Organization (WHO) annual average guideline.

Yet, only a tiny proportion of vehicles undergo emission tests.

Data from the Jakarta Statistics Agency show that in 2021, there were 21.8 million motor vehicles in the city. However, DLH data showed that fewer than 500,000 vehicles had their emissions tested.

In January 2020, a fine was planned for those who failed to test their vehicles but its implementation was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Jakarta administration intended to enforce similar punishment starting November 13, 2021. However, it was postponed again due to the low number of emission inspections and insufficient testing facilities. As of Dec. 28, 2022, only 336 car repair shops and 107 motorcycle workshops had inspection facilities.

Immediately after the city administration announced the plan to enforce sanctions, the number of vehicles taking emission tests skyrocketed, according to data collected by the DLH.

Tiyana Broto Adi, the chief of the DLH pollution control section, stressed that fines would ensure compliance.

 “If we appeal to the public to have their vehicles tested for emissions, the daily average number of vehicles inspected here [in my office], for example, is only eight. Implementation of sanctions correlates positively with the willingness to participate in an emissions test,” he said.

Sherly Febrina, a 29-year-old copywriter, who knew about compulsory emissions tests from her father, said that the absence of sanctions made her reluctant to get her 12-year-old motorcycle inspected for emissions.

“My father reminded me to take my motorbike for an emissions test, but I was too lazy because, at that time, the facilities were crowded with people. Moreover, there was no sanction,” she said.

When asked whether she would take her motorbike to get inspected if sanctions were fully imposed, she replied, “Absolutely. Now, because it’s not urgent, I’m not eager to get my motorbike tested for emissions,” said Sherly.

Fanny Nuraini, 30, who lives in South Tangerang, Banten, knows the regulation. However, she did not realize that vehicle owners outside Jakarta could be punished. Nevertheless, if necessary, she is willing to test her car.

“I will probably participate, especially if there’s a sanction in the form of a ban on registration certificate extensions for people whose vehicles do not get inspected for emissions,” she said.

Mei, a private employee in South Jakarta who asked to use only her first name, said she had just learned about the mandatory emissions tests after the Post told her.”Since you told me about this regulation, I will consider participating in the emissions test. I will try to find a repair shop that provides this service,” she said.

“Honestly, I don’t like it when my motorbike causes excessive pollution. So, I will ask a technician about how to reduce my motorcycle’s emissions,” she added.

Independent air-quality expert Muhammad Shidiq said that punishment led to an insignificant number of emission-tested vehicles.

“I have discussed this issue with policy makers and other experts. I believe this is the current trend. When the [traffic citation] plan was implemented, some people were uninformed about the sanctions, but many people deliberately ignored the regulation,” Shidiq said.

This story was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network through the Clean Air Catalyst program, a flagship program launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by a global partnership of organizations including the World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, and Internews.

This story was first published in The Jakarta Post on 22 February 2023.

About the writer

Wulan Kusuma Wardhani

Wulan Kusuma Wardhani is a freelance journalist based in Jakarta. While she has a wide variety of interests, she primarily writes about human rights, criminal justice, and gender issues. A number of her...

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