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Jakarta Post

Taxis plan nationwide strike if govt fails to close down ride-hailing apps

  • Anton Hermansyah & Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 22, 2016   /  03:56 pm
Taxis plan nationwide strike if govt fails to close down ride-hailing apps Hundreds of taxis are seen parked in the Semanggi area of South Jakarta during a protest on Tuesday. At least 10,000 taxi, bajaj (auto rickshaw) and bus drivers demanded that the government close down growing ride-hailing applications, which have threatened conventional transportation drivers' income. (Antara/Muhammad Adimaja)

Thousands of drivers under the Land Transportation Drivers Association (PPAD) have said they will plan a wider-scale protest if the government does not comply with their demands to close down ride-hailing applications following a huge demonstration in the capital on Tuesday.

At least 10,000 drivers, mainly from taxi companies, protested in several locations such as Senayan in South Jakarta and in front of the Communications and Information Ministry in Central Jakarta.

"If the applications are not shut down, we will consolidate and hold a national strike tomorrow," PPAD spokesman Suharto told journalists on Tuesday at the communications ministry.

He said more drivers would join the protest across Indonesia if the government continued to allow the app-based transportation services to operate.

The drivers questioned Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara's decision not to close down the apps and instead facilitate them, in contrast to Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan who has announced a plan to shut down the applications over a lack of legal permits.

"There are a lot of victims in the protest. We never wanted to create anarchy but we could not control what happened in the field," Suharto said, referring to the violent protests on the streets of Jakarta.

App-based transportation services, such as homegrown motorcycle taxi application Go-Jek, US-based Uber and Malaysia's Grab, have reportedly contributed to the decrease of conventional transportation drivers' income.

Before the mushrooming number of apps, conventional taxi drivers could bring in Rp 150,000 (US$11) per day, which has reduced drastically to around Rp 30,000 per day, Suharto said. The drivers have denied that they are against technological developments. However, they have urged the government to impose firm regulations on illegal services.

PPAD demanded that the government and the House of Representatives listen to the demands of drivers from various taxi companies in Jakarta, such as Express Taxi, Blue Bird, Pratama and Putra.

"Long live Jonan! Step down, Rudiantara! They only defend foreign investors, not local companies," protesters screamed in front of the House complex.

PPAD chairman Cecep Handoko said that the legalization of ride-hailing apps would allow the number of private vehicles utilized for public transportation to flourish.

"Black [license] plate [private] vehicles' business has had negative impacts on yellow-plated vehicles' business," Cecep said.

The drivers blamed their declining income on the growing use of app-based transportation systems, saying they no longer made a profit from their work.

"If I could still eat well and give enough money to my wife and kid, I wouldn't join this protest. But because of the illegal vehicles, sometimes I only have one passenger a day," Blue Bird taxi driver Anang told thejakartapost.com on Tuesday.

Another taxi driver said that recent economic conditions had put an extra burden on his financial situation, made even worse by the illegally operating vehicles.

"To be honest, in the last five months, I could not feed my family. It is lucky that I have a grown-up child who can sustain our family," Express driver Rohadi said, adding that he sometimes borrowed money from relatives to make ends meet.

The Jakarta Police and Jakarta Military Command deployed 6,000 personnel to secure the demonstration.

The protest in front of the House was conducted peacefully. However, violence was reported in areas such as Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto and Jl. Jend. Sudirman.

Law enforcement unit chief at the Jakarta Police's Traffic Directorate, Adj. Sr. Comr. Budiyanto, said the police would curb any acts of violence regarding the protests.

He also urged members of the public who witnessed violent acts to report to the police.

"Please photograph and send the violent incidents to the Traffic Management Center as an evidence," Budiyanto said. (rin)

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