If only Jakarta were like an ice rink

The anarchy on Jakarta’s jam-packed streets has to be seen to be believed. It’s everyone for themselves, and only those who are prepared to fight their way to the front will get a lifejacket and be saved. Everyone else will perish in the streets – perhaps to be sucked down into one of the many huge potholes never to be seen again like in a 1950’s American B movie horror flick. After all, nothing else could explain why the car drivers risk their lives to run red lights and opt to drive bumper to bumper at traffic intersections, thus blocking the way for other cars and creating total gridlock in the process.

Anyway, during the holiday break I was dragged over to the huge Taman Anggrek shopping mall in Slipi, which apart from having the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen also has a very popular ice rink. The perfect place to eat an ice cream.

But what’s really remarkable is the contrast with Jakarta’s chaotic roads. Everything very civil and, seemingly, just like the ice rink Tim Harford visited in the UK:

“dozens of skaters hurtle around the ring while others, inexperienced, teeter precariously on sharp-bladed skates. Nobody has been checked for competence, there are no lanes, speed limits, rights-of-way or traffic signals. And yet the rink works perfectly, everybody skates around in the same direction and at their own pace, and little fingers and toes rarely get sliced off”.

Quite incredible really. Something which the scientific boffins call “spontaneous order”.

And as for Jakarta’s roads, the filthy dirty bajaj are now slowly being replaced with new versions that use gas. Now I don’t know about you, but this makes me more than a little worried. Cos judging by the condition of the bajaj on the road today, maintenance is perhaps not the top priority for the bajaj drivers who struggle to take home enough money to feed their families. And we all know what can happen to highly inflammable gas. What condition will these gas run bajaj be like in a few years’ time? Spontaneous order? Forget that. What about spontaneous combustion?!!!


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