For most of its six decades as a tire maker out of Jakarta, Gajah Tunggal has seen its fortunes track those of its home country. From its humble beginnings fitting out bicycle rickshaws, the company rose to become the largest tire maker in Southeast Asia as Indonesians shifted from pedal power to motorized scooters and finally to cars.

Jakarta has a reputation as an impenetrable place. Viewed from atop one of the many business hotels in the center of the city, the Indonesian capital is a sea of gray stretching into the haze. No one knows for sure how big metropolitan Jakarta actually is—maybe 10 million people or more in a region almost the size of Kuwait. What’s clear, though, is that while this city is rich relative to the rest of the country , its city managers were miserly when it came to building the ribbons of roads and rail needed to bind its residents together.