On August 10th Jakarta became the world’s most polluted major city. According to data from Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, it thereby passed cities such as Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Doha in Qatar and Lahore. With the health of 30 million inhabitants at stake, president Joko Widodo – who himself has been struggling with a cough that could be caused by the severe air pollution – urged Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin to tackle the situation as soon as possible and after an emergency cabinet meeting the ministers decided to put everything at work in order to make it easier for people to work from home. A part of Jakarta’s civil servants will set the example.
“The air quality in the Greater Jakarta Area has been very, very bad,” Widodo said at the beginning of August. “The extended dry season spanning the past three months has intensified pollutant levels … If deemed necessary, we will advocate for a hybrid work system in offices, a blend of on site and remote work.”
As of August 21st, half of the civil servants have been ordered to work from home by interim Jakarta Gov. Heru Budi Hartono. That percentage will be brought up to 75% in September and the order stands until October 21st. Hospitals, fire and rescue services and public transport won’t be concerned by the measure, other government services will be, however.
Work from home arrangements will not disrupt public services. Work will continue.Sigit Wijatmoko, Jakarta provincial government spokesperson told CNN Indonesia.
After the emergency cabinet meeting on August 14th, tourism minister Sandiaga Uno told reporters that the government is also looking at measures to improve the city’s air quality in the long term. Factories, coal-fired power plants and heavy traffic all share responsibility for the heavy pollution and countering that won’t be an easy task. However, other cities have proven for it to be possible and Jakarta will without a doubt look at them for inspiration on how to handle the situation.
“If we look at Beijing’s success, I am very confident that with the collaboration of local governments and businesses, we can also improve air quality in Jakarta,” Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said in a statement.