The Jakarta Post
'Ojek' (motorcycle taxis) are a popular mode of public transportation for residents in Indonesia's big cities. (Shutterstock/File)
Ojek (motorcycle taxis), may be one of the most convenient modes of public transportation for residents in Indonesia's big cities, with the two-wheeled vehicles able to maneuver through the clogged streets.
However, the compact size of a motorcycle, and the close proximity of the driver to the passenger, has concerned some.
Thirty-four-year-old Yofi Cahya Subangga said his wife rode a motorcycle when traveling around the housing complex, although sometimes she prefers to hop on an ojek when traveling further.
As a Muslim family, he explained that they adhered to the belief that members of the opposite sex that are not family are not allowed to touch. Yofi said he prefered his wife, Dhitta FN, not to ride with a male driver.
"We find it hard to find women drivers," Yofi told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Wednesday.
In December last year, Yofi, Dhitta and a group of friends had the idea of creating a ride-hailing app specifically for women.
"It turns out our friends had the same problem," said Yofi, who eventually founded and developed the app.
In April, SheJek launched in Bandung, West Java, where the couple live. The service, which caters specifically to women, as the name implies, implements values in line with Yofi's sharia beliefs.
Drivers, for example, are required to dress in a sharia fashion and wear loose fitting clothes, preferably a long skirt and long headscarf.
"They can wear trousers, but they would still need to wear a long blouse that covers their bottom and a long headscarf," Yofi said, adding that the rules don't apply to users.
The app has gained popularity among Bandung city residents and has spread its reach across Bandung regency and even to neighboring cities such as Jakarta and even Makassar.
The app, however, is not the first of its kind. Surabaya-based Ojek Syari Indonesia, known as Ojesy, is another transportation service catering to women that was established in 2015, according to its website.
Read also: Lesson from Go-Jek: Answer to Uber, Grab
Similarly, both services operate from 5 am to 7 pm. However, with Ojesy charging Rp 8,000 (US$0.55) for the first kilometer and Rp 2,000 for each kilometer thereafter, SheJek charges a lower rate of Rp 5,000 for the first 2 kilometers and Rp 2,000 for each subsequent kilometer.
SheJek's affordable price makes it a popular option among users that have evidently extended beyond the West Java capital, with Yofi noting there are a total of 27,000 registered users so far.
"However, there's still limited capital, which affects our services, so our app often crashes and malfunctions," Yofi said.
Despite technical limitations, drivers and users can still communicate and book trips via chat platforms WhatsApp and Telegram. Yofi added that some users were also unfamiliar with app usage and that many preferred to book via chat anyway.
Ummu Tsurayya, 34, had never downloaded the app but knew of the service through WhatsApp groups and has been using it for several months now.
"[I use it] because the drivers are women," Ummu said, adding that she would still use ride-hailing apps Gojek and Grab for car rides.
Nadia, 31, said although she had downloaded the app, she didn't use it anymore, since she had forgotten the password. Nadia nevertheless continues to use the service by contacting several drivers whose numbers she has saved from previous trips.
"But you can't book a trip for an immediate ride. To be safe, it must be [booked] the day before. You can also book via the Telegram group, but it's the same, it must be the day before," Nadia said. (mut)