The Jakarta Post
Despite having no license from the city administration to run a public transportation firm, ride-booking company Uber continues to offer its services in Jakarta.
The company has also promoted its services in neighboring areas by providing free travel to Bekasi in West Java last year. It also offered the same in a program called JKT FREE WEEK to customers in Kuningan in South Jakarta from Feb. 23 to March 1.
Many customers, however, have inadequate knowledge about Uber and think that the company is just a regular taxi company.
One such person is Pradikta Dwi Anthony, 28, who recently tried the Uber application for the first time. He said he enjoyed the service and that he found it more affordable and willing to go to areas that were rarely ventured into by regular taxis.
'I ordered one yesterday from LTC Glodok shopping center in West Jakarta to Keraton at the Plaza in Central Jakarta,' he said on Saturday.
He said he paid Rp 24,000 (US$1.84) even though the traffic was quite heavy. 'I paid more than Rp 30,000 on the way back to LTC Glodok using a regular taxi,' he said, adding that the traffic back was relatively smooth.
However, Pradikta soon regretted his decision to book the service when he found out that Uber was not licensed to operate public transportation vehicles.
'If I knew that it wasn't licensed, I wouldn't have used it,' he said.
He said Uber and the city administration should give clear information to the public about the licence issue. The public, he said, was confused by conflicting statements made by the administration and the company.
'Please show us evidence. Don't just offer words that negate other people's words,' he said.
Launched in Jakarta in August last year, Uber provides a service through a smartphone application that allows users to hire drivers for private rides or to arrange ride shares with other users.
Soon after the launch, Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama threatened to shut down the company because of its lack of a license to operate.
'[Uber] is still prohibited [from operating]. It has yet to take care of the operational permit,' Ahok announced at City Hall recently.
Transportation Agency head Benjamin Bukit confirmed that Uber had not applied for a license from his agency.
The head of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) Jakarta, Shafruhan Sinungan, has repeatedly complained that Uber was detrimental to the taxi business in the capital.
Meanwhile, the company has insisted that it does not need to acquire a license from the Transportation Agency as it was not a taxi company.
An official statement from Uber underlined in an email on Monday that Uber was a technology company.
'We do not own or operate vehicles or employ drivers. Our mobile application simply connects a rider's request to a partner from a licensed for hire chauffeur-driven transportation company,' the statement said.
Uber added that the company had fully complied with applicable transportation laws and that it was accredited by the local government.
It said the company, however, was open to any cooperation and discussions with the government on initiatives that could enhance transparency, safety and efficiency within the transportation industry.
In its website, Uber also claims that safety is its first priority. It has recorded the names, photos and contact details of drivers and the license plate of each vehicle.
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