Jakarta Enforces Remote Work to Combat Pollution

In a bid to tackle the worsening air pollution crisis in Jakarta, civil servants in Indonesia’s capital began remote work on Monday. The move aims to ease traffic congestion and alleviate the hazardous air quality that has plagued the city, even impacting President Joko Widodo’s health.

The air quality in Jakarta, housing over 10.5 million residents, has reached alarming levels in recent weeks. Swiss tech company IQAir labeled it the world’s most polluted city on August 9. Acknowledging the urgency, President Widodo chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on August 14 to discuss the dire situation. He encouraged workers to opt for remote work to reduce congestion and pollution.

President Widodo emphasized, “The air quality in the Greater Jakarta Area has been very, very bad.” He cited an extended dry season and intensified pollutant levels due to factors like factories and traffic.

The government’s response involves a phased approach. Half of the civil service started working remotely from Monday, with plans to increase to 75% by October 21. The policy applies to government offices and aims to minimize disruption to public services. However, certain essential services like hospitals, fire and rescue, and public transport will remain unaffected.

Additionally, as Indonesia prepares for the 43rd ASEAN Summit in September, schools near key venues will implement distance learning to protect students from exposure to polluted air.

Indonesia’s challenges with air quality extend to other Southeast Asian nations. The ASEAN Summit serves as a reminder of the region’s struggle with high pollution levels.

President Widodo’s persistent cough has raised concerns. Ministers confirmed his health issue and suggested a connection to Jakarta’s worsening air quality.

Air pollution in Jakarta has been a long-standing concern, attributed to factors like factories, coal-fired power plants, and traffic congestion. The government is now looking into strategies to achieve long-term air quality improvements.

Reflecting on the success story of Beijing’s efforts, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno expressed optimism about Jakarta’s potential to improve its air quality. However, experts underline that the health consequences of Indonesia’s air pollution are significant and cannot be ignored.

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