Indonesian authorities ordered thousands of public sector employees in the capital, Jakarta, to work from home from Monday for a two-month trial period with the aim of improving air quality in the city.
Jakarta and its surrounding cities constitute a huge area home to approximately 30 million people, and the average pollution with PM 2.5 particles of less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter has exceeded the rates recorded in other highly polluted cities.
Activists attribute high levels of toxic smog to clusters of factories and coal-fired power plants near Jakarta, but the government has dismissed these accusations, arguing that the recent increase in air pollution is mainly due to bad weather and traffic.
A government notice, a copy of which was seen by Agence France-Presse, stated that the work-from-home mechanism is linked to efforts to reduce traffic congestion in the city during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit next month and to “reduce air pollution levels in Jakarta.”
The notice indicated that 50% of civil servants in Jakarta were ordered to work from home between August 21 and October 21, and that up to 75% of government employees in the capital will work from home during the ASEAN summit between September 4 and 7.
By July, about 50,000 civil servants were working in Jakarta, according to the regional civil service agency.
Acting Jakarta Governor Hiru Budi Hartono told reporters on Sunday that local governments in cities around the capital are also considering similar work-from-home arrangements for civil servants, but for a shorter period.
He indicated that the Jakarta government would oversee the implementation of this policy, with the possibility of ending it earlier than planned if it was found to be unsuccessful.
This mechanism is one of the measures taken by the government to improve air quality in Jakarta.
In an Instagram post last week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Pandjaitan said the focus of the government’s policies to control emissions includes focusing on the industrial and power generation sectors.
Emissions from vehicles account for 44 percent of air pollution in Jakarta, followed by emissions from the energy sector, which reach 31 percent, and the manufacturing sector (10 percent), according to officials.