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Sunday October 27, 2013 MYT 10:02:00 AM
Sunday October 27, 2013 MYT 10:07:07 AM
JAKARTA: Fed up with spending hours stuck in the gridlocked Indonesian capital Jakarta, hundreds of thousands of social media-savvy commuters are tweeting to beat the traffic.
Four years ago the IT entrepreneur set up lewatmana.com, a website and associated Twitter account through which commuters can share real-time information about traffic conditions.
"Indonesians update their status on Facebook and Twitter all the time, so we thought, why not share information about traffic jams?" Soelistyo told AFP.
Lewatmana, which means "via where" in Indonesian, mainly provides information about jams, but also flags up flooded roads or areas affected by the city's frequent demonstrations.
Another attempt to solve Jakarta's traffic woes through Twitter is a car-pooling community called Nebengers, which translates as "hitchhikers" and aims to reduce the number of vehicles in the city centre.
"Nebengers is like a virtual car terminal, where we can hitch a ride to go to school or the office," said founder Andreas Aditya Swasti, 27.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of motorbikes on the streets increased by 460 percent and the number of cars by 160 percent, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The agency, a state-funded body that gives out Japanese government aid and advice, is helping Jakarta fix its traffic woes.
Public transport, which mostly consists of run-down buses belching toxic black smoke and overloaded trains and minibuses, has proved an unattractive option for a fast-growing middle class that can now afford cars.
New mass transit projects - which have been delayed for decades - are slowly springing back to life, with ground-breaking ceremonies for both the city's first subway and monorail taking place this month.
"Where else can you find citizens busying themselves with traffic management? Indonesia is probably the most active, because in other countries, it's the government who is doing this stuff," said Soelistyo. - AFP
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