President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo slammed the Transportation Ministry's move to prohibit the operations of application-based modes of transportation, saying that their presence fulfilled public demand created by a lack of reliable public transit.
Jokowi said on Friday that ojek (motorcycle taxis) were abundant because the public needed them.
"People need ojek. Don't set a regulation that causes people to suffer," he said in a press statement sent out by the President's staff.
Jokowi said that regulations could be adjusted until the government could provide good mass transportation.
Moreover, he also stressed that the government should not restrict innovation as that was at the core of the growing start-up businesses of the ride-hailing applications.
Jokowi urged the ministry to manage the alternative modes of transportation instead of banning them in order to provide for public safety.
He said he would summon Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan to discuss the matter.
Jokowi brought along Go-Jek's founder Nadiem Makarim during his state visit to the US in October as he was responsible for one of Indonesia's prominent startups.
Jonan signed a ministerial letter prohibiting the operations of application-based transportation that lacked operational permits and violated the 2009 law on land transportation.
The letter restricted the operations of online transportation services such as Go-Jek, GrabBike, Uber, Lady-Jek and Blue-Jek.
A public outcry slammed the move, which was announced on Thursday, saying that alternative transportation was needed as the government was not providing safe and sufficient public transportation, especially in big cities like Jakarta.
Following the criticisms, Jonan said the law stipulated that motorcycles could not be used as public transportation.
However, he said he realized that since there was no reliable public transportation in the country, ojek had come to fill the gap in people's transportation needs.
"If ojek could serve as temporary solution, then go ahead, until we have good public transportation," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Jonan also invited people to apply for a judicial review of the 2009 law on traffic and land transportation so that motorcycles could serve as a formal mode of public transport.
He also claimed that the letter he issued was not a prohibition letter, but a reminder to the National Police about illegal public transportation, including ojek. (rin)(+)