Ministry calls for ban of Uber, Grab taxis
Farida Susanty and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani
The Jakarta Post
With the backdrop of a mass rally involving thousands of taxi and public transport drivers in Jakarta on Monday to protest online ride-hailing apps, the Transportation Minister made an official request to the Communications and Information Minister that Uber and Grab be banned in Indonesia.
In a copy made available to The Jakarta Post, the ministry cited several regulations that Uber and Grab had violated, including one that stipulates that public transportation services can only be provided by state or regional enterprises or any other legal firm. The ministry also said that the ride-hailing app companies did not have the required license to operate a transportation service.
The ministry also highlighted some concerns regarding safety and privacy issues that it said put users at risk.
Like other legal taxi operators, both Uber and Grab have to abide by prevailing regulations, including the Law on Traffic and Land Transportation. They are also subject to regular checks on vehicle roadworthiness at transportation agency centers before they can be used as public transport. Additionally, the two companies must have a legal presence in Indonesia and pay taxes.
'With this [letter], we are not trying to hamper the businesses at all,' Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said.
Separately, the ministry's spokeperson Julius Adravida Barata, said that the ministry had discussed the issue with the Communications and Information Ministry before taking a stance on the issue.
'The [Communications and Information] Ministry has said that they need a letter from Transportation Ministry before blocking the app,' he said.
Barata added that the case involving Uber and Grab, was different to homegrown ojek (motorcycle taxi) app Go-Jek, as these particular regulations did not apply to motorcycle taxis.
Previously, the ministry issued a circular banning Go-Jek, along with other app-based ride services, due to allegedly violating to regulations.
However, the ministry softened its stance after President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo defended the firm, arguing that 'the people need ojek and the regulation should not be a bother to the people'.
Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said his ministry would leave the issue to the Transportation Ministry and City administration, and would only play a secondary role.
He also called for increased support for online transportation service apps, saying that the tech companies should not need to go through a complicated bureaucratic process to obtain permits.
'We should not focus on the permits. How can our startups be competitive if they are hampered by permits?' Rudiantara said.
He further said that his ministry also did not need to impose particular regulations for online transportation services, and would instead, focus on protecting the interests of consumers, such as keeping their private data safe.
Uber has been operating in Indonesia for more than a year. It has continued to face serious challenges, particularly from the Jakarta administration over its legal status.
Meanwhile, Grab said in its official statement, 'We wish to clarify that we are not a transport operator. We are a legal entity in Indonesia, we are registered as a taxpayer, and we respect and are committed to complying with all local prevailing laws and regulations.'
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