IN FOCUS: The ongoing struggle to reduce air pollution in Jakarta and why the problem has persisted


Jakarta’s poor air quality prompted a group of residents to sue the government and they won. CNA explores the root causes and impacts of the smog which regularly blankets the city.


It has been months since Andy Rahman last rode his bicycle on the streets of Jakarta, a hobby he picked up last year when non-essential workers like himself were told to work from home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“After about 30 minutes, my eyes were burning, my throat hurt and I began to cough,” the 47-year-old marketing manager told CNA. 

The coughing would persist even after he got home. It would only go away after he remained indoors for hours, he said.

Rahman noticed that whenever he went cycling, the air would smell like there was something burning. Visibility was sometimes so low that tall skyscrapers appeared as mere silhouettes against a greyish sky.

This led him to suspect that his coughing had to do with the worsening air quality.

According to air quality monitoring tools, the city of 11 million people consistently ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Data from the Jakarta Health Agency shows that in 2019, before the pandemic began, the city only had two days when the air quality was deemed “healthy”. The rest of the year, the city was blanketed with toxic fumes and fine dust particles from vehicles, factories and coal-fired power plants surrounding the capital.

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Chennel News Asia, 20 November 2021