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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Jakarta's partial lockdown deals a heavy blow to 'ojek' drivers

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, April 12, 2020   /   08:56 am
COVID-19: Jakarta's partial lockdown deals a heavy blow to 'ojek' drivers Ride-hailing motorcycle taxi drivers wait for orders near Ambassador Mall in South Jakarta on April 7. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Mohamad Usman, 45, usually transports up to 10 passengers a day on normal days. But ever since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Greater Jakarta, the app-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver has experienced a significant drop in passengers and, therefore, income.

“I’ve only had five passengers in the past two weeks. Lately, I’ve been sending packages, food and sometimes medicine,” Usman told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said the situation had been challenging ever since schools and companies started imposing study and work from home policies, as encouraged by the government. The challenges continued following large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) ordered by the Jakarta administration on Friday in its bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Effective for 14 days until April 24, the PSBB states that ojek drivers are only allowed to transport goods and not passengers, as stipulated in Health Ministry Regulation No. 9/2020 on PSBB guidelines and Gubernatorial Decree No. 33/2020, which is the legal basis for the implementation of large-scale social restrictions in the capital.

To comply with the PSBB status, multi-service apps Gojek and Grab also temporarily disabled their ojek services. Jakarta-based customers are only able to hail a car and use goods and food delivery services.

Read also: 'Break the chain!': Businesses brace for Jakarta’s social restrictions

Usman, who regularly transports goods and passengers around Cilandak, South Jakarta, said his income had dropped by 50 percent.

“For some drivers who usually transport only passengers, the decline must be much more drastic. Not all drivers can easily get an order for food or packages,” said the driver, who has been working for Gojek since 2016.

He further said that delivering food and packages also had its obstacles as many streets were closed due to the partial lockdown, requiring drivers to take longer routes, which means extra costs for gas. He also reported that some shops and merchants had temporarily closed their business.

Despite suffering a decreased income, he expressed his support for the city administration’s decision as it would help stop the chain of COVID-19 infections. Still, he hoped that both the government and ojek service providers would pay more attention to drivers whose financial conditions have now been affected.

Online Driver Association (ADO) head Wiwit Sudarsono said drivers’ earning had been reduced up to 80 percent, especially for drivers who used to take only passengers.

He also expressed his hope that Grab Indonesia and Gojek would compensate for the loss by cutting the usual 20 percent commission.

“We need an immediate solution by the government and ojek service companies,” he said.

Read also: COVID-19: Jakarta Police patrol streets, supermarkets during partial lockdown

Meanwhile, app-based ojek association Two-Wheel Movement Union (GARDA) head Igun Wicaksono regretted that the Go-ride and GrabBike features had been disabled after the Jakarta administration prohibited drivers from taking passengers.

“We want the administration to evaluate the regulation so that drivers can take passengers. Otherwise, please give compensation to app-based ojek drivers during the prohibition,” he said on Friday as quoted by tempo.co.

Igun said ojek was a common, affordable mode of transportation among the general public for their daily commute.

He added that the association had requested from the government an allowance of Rp 100,000 (US$ 6.30) for each driver or half the average daily income of app-based ojek drivers.