Jakarta continues to breathe unhealthy air as vehicle emissions go largely unchecked

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Jakarta, Indonesia, frequently ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world, and was recently named the most polluted city on the planet by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir.

Authorities in Indonesia are blaming the air pollution issues in the city of more than 11 million on a combination of vehicle emissions and weather patterns, specifically the current dry season.

For the past few months, residents of Jakarta have been greeted each morning by a combination of gray skies and a blanket of dense smoke, reported The Associated Press.

“In June, July and August, there is invariably an escalation in air pollution in Jakarta due to the dry air,” said senior environment and forestry official Sigit Reliantoro at a press conference, as AFP reported.

Reliantoro said the high pollution levels from June to August were caused by seasonal wind changes.

“I have to wear a mask all the time. Both my body and my face are suffering,” Anggy Violita, a 32-year-old officer worker in Jakarta, told AFP in another report. “Last week my entire family was sick for a week and the doctor told me I should stay indoors.”

Data from the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry said transportation produces 44 percent of the air pollution, while 31 percent comes from industry, reported The Associated Press.

Many of the vehicles in Jakarta, particularly motorcycles, are highly polluting and inefficient, and maintenance standards are rarely enforced. Public transportation in the metropolitan area of 30 million is lacking, so heavy traffic produces a constant stream of pollution.

President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, along with six other officials, was charged with neglecting the right of citizens to clean air in 2021. The court ordered that the poor air quality in Jakarta be improved, but health issues related to the city’s air pollution continue to escalate.

“It is increased compared to 2022. And it is almost the same condition we found in 2019 and 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dwi Oktavia, head of disease prevention and control at the Jakarta Health Agency, as Reuters reported. “[W]e should actively be using public transportation and bicycles.”

Indonesia has promised to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants this year, reported AFP. However, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia, Java’s Suralaya, is being expanded by the Indonesian government.

There are 10 coal-fired plants operating within 100 kilometers of Jakarta, according to Greenpeace Indonesia, and they probably don’t help the city’s pollution issue.

As one solution to Jakarta’s air quality problem, some of the city’s industrial and economic operations are scheduled to be moved to Nusantara, Borneo, which is being planned as the country’s new capital city.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

Like MediaFeed's content? Be sure to follow us.