'Who needs handbrakes?' Ask Metro Mini drivers
Sita W. Dewi
The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of Metro Mini (minibus) drivers staged another violent protest in front of City Hall, airing a number of counterproductive demands, including more lenient vehicle assessments.
The drivers demanded that the Jakarta Transportation Agency release hundreds of Metro Mini buses that had been declared unroadworthy.
'We want the agency to release the buses because we can not make money. We also want a more lenient vehicle assessment,' Utay, a Metro Mini driver, said on Thursday.
Under the sweltering sun, the drivers pushed up to the City Hall gate, attempting to break into the governor's office area, to no avail.
Others were seen venting their rage by attacking passing Kopaja (minibus) and Transjakarta buses.
'We don't want to meet [the transportation] agency head. We want to talk to the governor,' one of the protesters shouted.
Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, however, was not at his office today as he was at Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta inspecting Blok G market and at the Pinus Elok low-cost apartments in East Jakarta showing Ria-Rio reservoir squatters the apartment units they will be relocated to.
Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, who was about to leave City Hall, managed to meet the protesters for a few minutes.
'We want a more lenient vehicle assessment. Please allow Metro Mini buses without speedometers or handbrakes to operate,' one protester said, to which the deputy governor responded indignantly.
'That is outrageous. Some people have died because of that. Do you want more victims?' Ahok said while handing over his name card.
'If you want to discuss anything, just call me!' he said while leaving.
Separately, PT Metromini president director Nofrialdi argued that a number of bus parts such as speedometers and handbrakes were hard to come by. 'Most buses are 20 to 30 years old. Many of the parts are no longer available.'
The Jakarta Transportation Agency seized and impounded 1,354 Metro Mini buses and grounded another 180 buses. The agency has also reported 25 Metro Mini buses to the City Police over allegations of vehicle document forgery.
'[We suspect] they have faked their vehicle assessment documents and official signatures,' agency head Udar Pristono said.
'We won't bow to their pressure. A regulation is a regulation. We don't want more victims,' Sunardi Sinaga, agency operational division head, said.
The city administration has planned to integrate the management of Metro Mini minibuses, currently owned by a number of individuals under PT Metromini, as part of its efforts to improve public transportation in the capital. The city also aimed to procure hundreds on new minibuses to replace the aging buses.
University of Indonesia transportation expert Alvinsyah supported the city's move, saying that 'without management integration, public transportation revitalization can not be realized.'
A recent accident in East Jakarta that involved a Metro Mini minibus, which injured three students, incited public outrage. It was later found out that the Metro Mini driver did not have a driving license and was not an official driver. The minibus was also found to be not road-worthy as it had neither functioning brakes nor a clutch.
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