Makassar’s Quest to Tackle Bad Traffic

Jan 31, 2017

Workshop participants interviewing a woman inside a pete-pete

By Maurice Shawndefar

Transport options are limited for sixteen-year-old Rina, a student in Makassar. She relies on her parents to drive her to school every day.  “Usually, it takes around 30 minutes to arrive, but if there’s a traffic jam, I get out of the car and run, because I don’t want to be late to class.”

Rapid urbanization and steady growth in income per capita has led to a 16 percent rise in vehicle ownership in Makassar between 2009-2013. This has led to more gridlock, and greater barriers for people getting to school or work. As I traveled around Makassar, two things quickly became apparent: many construction sites on and off the roads and a lack of access to formal public transport.  

Although many people use pete-pete, minivans operating as informal public transport, they hardly seemed comfortable and convenient. It then occurred to me that Makassar has high potential if it establishes an efficient and convenient public transportation system that can increase labor productivity across the metropolitan area. This explains the city’s quest to find innovative measures in tackling bad traffic, and helping people get around.

The city government is leading on finding creative solutions to improve services across the city. Under Mayor Danny Pomanto, Makassar has issued a smart card containing civil registry data, tax ID numbers, and social security numbers for Makassar residents. It has reduced bureaucracy and improved efficiency. The city has also introduced smart cards in schools to help parents keep track of their child’s activities and progress. Students use the cards to enter and exit school premises, and purchase food from the cafeteria while parents receive notifications on their phones.


In November 2016, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the city government, local transportation agency (DISHUB), UN PulseLab Jakarta, and BaKTI, convened a workshop to develop solutions for the city’s transport challenges in three areas. These included: user-based routes, driving behavior and bad habits, and better supply of traffic information. These areas are important because service routes can be better designed through collaboration (to reduce overlaps and coverage gaps); drivers can be nudged to follow traffic laws more regularly; and improved data collection and traffic information can influence routing decisions.

Following the workshop, six prototypes were developed, and categorized in three clusters. They are:

  1. Service: rerouting current modes of public transportation to ensure more efficiency. In addition, the pete-pete network would expand across areas lacking access to public transport, and use pete-pete as a feeder to complement alternative modes of transportation. The design also proposes to build pete-pete stops to prevent drivers from stopping in the middle of roads in search of passengers.

  2. Behavior: providing a new pete-pete network, Pasikola, specific to students across Makassar. Currently, many schools do not offer bus services for students, and this design would meet this demand while improving the quality of service and rerouting the current network.

  3. Information: a smart phone application that would provide real-time traffic information including BRT and pete-pete schedules, locations of bus stops, and estimated arrival times. This will be done through the application and monitoring GPS tracking systems on the vehicles.

Way Forward

UNDP will support testing the prototypes, and further support the city government in scaling up the prototypes. There has also been some interest from the provincial government to organize a similar workshop on the provincial level, and UNDP will remain in contact with partners to facilitate further cooperation on improving the city’s transportation network. However, the success of these prototypes will highly depend on DISHUB’s ability to reach an agreement with pete-pete owners as well as the pete-pete Association (ORGANDA) to make the necessary adjustments including the rerouting of current lines.

While these prototypes seem promising in addressing some of the city’s transport challenges, there are obstacles. These include lack of collaboration and coordination between local governments (city and provincial levels) and informal public transport service providers; poor financial support and limited access to credit; a need for data that can shape and support sound transportation policies; and better enforcement of current traffic laws.

These challenges are common across Indonesian cities. UNDP’s role, as a mediator, remains crucial in ensuring more collaboration and better provision of public services to all urban residents, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Contact information

Maurice Shawndefar is an intern at UNDP’s Democratic Governance and Poverty Reduction Unit. He can be contacted at

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