The Jakarta Post
Publicly listed taxi company Blue Bird Group will give free rides to customers on Wednesday in an attempt to restore its image following violent protests involving some of its drivers on Tuesday.
Free taxi rides will be offered in Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.
"This is our commitment to giving our best service to our customers because of the inconvenience caused by the demonstrations," Blue Bird vice president for business development Noni Purnomo said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The company will also cover the costs of any collateral damage caused by Blue Bird drivers, she added.
The free service will only apply to Blue Bird, while the high-end Silver Bird will charge regular fares.
The company denied that it had mobilized its drivers in the protest on Tuesday, the aim of which was to protest ride-hailing applications.
Blue Bird previously issued a letter urging its drivers not to join the protests, Noni said.
Blue Bird drivers were among taxi drivers who protested in several locations in the capital on Tuesday.
"We did not pay our drivers to protest. We even issued instructions to our field team to withdraw all the cars from [protest] locations," she said.
The listed taxi company said it would take firm action against any of its drivers proven to have committed anarchic acts during the protests.
"If any of our drivers are proven to have committed anarchy, we will fire them and report them to the police," Noni said.
The company fired a driver who was allegedly photographed carrying a machete. The photo went viral on social media. Noni said the photo was an old photo and that Blue Bird had fired the driver, named Feri Yanto, in November last year.
"If our drivers are proven guilty, we will sanction them, from firing them to reporting them to the police," Noni said.
The violent protests may have back fired on the respected Blue Bird as regular customers may decide to shun the company as a result of Tuesday's violence.
Ulma Nurriva Haryanto, 31, a regular Blue Bird customer, said she would not use Blue Bird anymore after seeing how its drivers conducted themselves during the protests.
"I will definitely use Uber from now on. No doubt most customers will feel the same way," said the housewife, adding that she also felt sorry for drivers who were victims of unresponsive government policies.
Another customer, Chrestella Whitfield, 25, who works at a Jakarta-based international organization, also criticized the protests, saying Blue Bird had lost its status as a respected taxi company.
"Blue Bird should have anticipated this by improving the drivers' welfare or lowering fares so they can compete with online-based taxis. It is so sad to see that financial pressures can make people do anything," she told thejakartapost.com, adding that the protests had made her decide to move to application-based taxis.
At least 10,000 drivers under the Association of Road Transportation Drivers (PPAD) protested in the capital to demand that the government shut down application-based transportation services due to a lack of licenses and unfair competition.
Several Blue Bird drivers were caught on camera bullying colleagues, damaging their cabs and forcing their passengers to get out of the taxis. Some drivers were also involved in brawls with Gojek drivers, as seen in TV news reports.
The drivers blame application-based transportation services for their declining incomes as customers have started to shift from conventional to modern transportation service such as Uber, Grab and Gojek. (rin)
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