Thousands of taxi drivers, upset that ride-sharing services such as Uber, Grab, and Go-Jek have cut into their income, blocked major streets in Jakarta, Indonesia, effectively shutting down the city of over ten million people, Al Jazeera is reporting.
Ride-sharing apps exist in a sort of legal gray area in Indonesia. Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan has said that ride-sharing services are essentially providing illegal public transportation unless they go through the same licensing requirements and adhere to the same regulations as taxi drivers. Indonesia’s Communications Ministry, however, has said that the apps are legal.
Caught in the middle are the tens of thousands of cab drivers, who believe the competition from unlicensed and unregulated ride-share apps is hurting their income.
“Right now there are legal taxis and illegal taxis. We are not allergic to competition with Uber and Grab… but we just want them to meet the government’s requirements.”
Driver Jeffrey Sumampouw shared similar sentiments, via MSN.
“The government must defend us from illegal drivers who have stolen our income. We almost cry every day because it’s difficult to get passengers.”
Suharto, who, like many Indonesians, goes by a single name, is a spokesperson for the Land Transport Drivers Association, which organized the Jakarta taxi protests. Speaking via the Wall Street Journal, he says that the ride-sharing apps are pushing legal cabs out of the market.
“Why do we let two companies mess up with our transportation system that has been working for decades? These new taxis don’t pay taxes, they don’t have meters. We are being sidelined.”
This is the second major protest against the ride-sharing services in Indonesia this month.
Dewi Gayatri, who missed a flight due to the protest, called the taxi drivers “rude” and said that she welcomes Uber because they offer competitive prices.
“This protest is so terrible. They really are rude and overbearing. I was very hurt. I still like Uber, and hope the government protects Uber, because it’s so easy to order and cheaper.”
In some places throughout Jakarta, the protests have turned violent. In one incident, men were seen lighting tires on fire and jumping on vehicles that were trying to get through. Meanwhile, men wearing green jackets — the unofficial uniform for motorcycle ride-sharing service Go-Jek — threw rocks at the taxi drivers in retaliation.
In another incident, taxi drivers surrounded a taxi who wasn’t participating in the protest, forcing the terrified female passenger to flee with her luggage.
Millions of residents of Jakarta rely on taxis and ride-sharing services to navigate through one of the worst-congested cities in Asia. The city has no public transportation system, and what few buses it has share the same roadways with the tens of thousands of cars, motorbikes, and motorized rickshaws that compete for precious space on the roads. The government is working on building a metro system for the city, but it’s not expected to be operational until 2018.
Do you believe the Jakarta taxi drivers have a legitimate beef against ride-sharing services such as Uber?
[Photo by AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim]