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Jakarta Post

App-based 'ojek' drivers demand compensation as new social restrictions bar them from taking passengers

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 8, 2020   /   07:24 am
App-based 'ojek' drivers demand compensation as new social restrictions bar them from taking passengers App-based 'ojek' (motorcycle taxi) drivers wait in line to receive lunch boxes provided by an NGO on Jl. Raya Bambu Apus in East Jakarta on Friday. App-based 'ojek' drivers have been among the most affected by the impacts of COVID-19. (JP/P.J.Leo)

Associations of app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers have demanded compensation from the government for their projected losses from the implementation of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta aimed to cutting the chain of COVID-19 infection in the capital city.

The Health Ministry has granted the request of the Jakarta administration to impose the PSBB in an effort to stem the spread of the virus in the country’s hardest-hit province. Health Ministry Regulation No. 9/2020 on the guidelines for the PSBB stipulates various aspects of the restrictions, including prohibiting app-based ojek from taking passengers. However, they are still permitted to transport goods.

Jakarta is the first region in Indonesia to enforce the measures, which officially took effect Tuesday.

The head of app-based ojek association Two-Wheel Movement Union (GARDA), Igun Wicaksono, said drivers earned around 70 percent of their income from transporting passengers.

He demanded the government provide financial aid to compensate for the drivers’ losses, including for GARDA’s 100,000 members.

“We expect Rp 100,000 (US$6.12) in financial aid a day,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He also called for ride-hailing companies Grab and Gojek to reduce their cut of the drivers’ fares to 10 percent. Both companies receive a 20 percent commission from every order.

“If necessary, the companies should not receive a commission from the drivers’ income during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Igun added.

The Online Driver Association (ADO), which has 50,000 members, also called on the government to provide financial aid to drivers to compensate not only for the losses incurred by the PSBB, but also from the physical distancing policy that was introduced last month.

ADO chairman Wiwit Sudarsono said most drivers had suffered income losses of up to 70 percent after work-from-home and study-from-home policies were imposed by schools and companies in compliance with the government’s guidelines.

“[The large-scale physical distancing] measures have made it hard for ojek drivers to make a living, support their families and pay the installments for the vehicles they use to work,” Wiwit told the Post.

He also said the regulation was unfair, as it only imposed restrictions on ride-hailing services, not conventional ojek drivers.

Previously, big data firm Statqo Analytics said Grab and Gojek had experienced 16 and 14 percent downturns, respectively, among their active ride-hailing users within the last week of March, forcing both companies to rely on food and goods delivery services.

Grab public affairs head Tri Sukma Anreianno said the company was coordinating with the government and its drivers regarding the prohibition.

“Since the initial spread of COVID-19 in December, Grab Indonesia has been monitoring the situation and preparing all stakeholders regarding our response, including our driver partners,” Tri said in a written statement received by the Post on Tuesday.

Gojek corporate affairs chief Nila Marita also said the home-grown company was conducting further studies and holding discussions with the government regarding the regulation.

“We have made various efforts to help our partners to perform their jobs safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Because our driver partners are our mainstay during the calls to stay at home,” Nila said in a written statement.

To help those affected, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on March 24 that creditors were prohibited from demanding loan installment payments, especially through debt collection services, for one year, which also applies to ojek and taxi drivers.

Wiwit, however, said creditors had only reduced the drivers’ installment fees and extended the repayment period instead of postponing their repayments.