In Jakarta, Uber Seen as an ‘Illegal’ Taxi Service

A woman shows the Uber apps on her smartphone in Jakarta, on Aug. 13, 2014. (JG Photo/Jurnasyanto Sukarno)

By : Vanesha Manuturi & Lenny Tristia Tambun | on 8:04 PM August 18, 2014
Category : Business, Corporate News, Featured

Jakarta. Uber Technologies seeks to discuss with authorities about its business, after a Jakarta official claimed the service — which started in the capital less than a week ago — as “illegal” for not having a permit as a taxi operator.

“We look forward to having constructive discussions with government and non-government stakeholders about how our technology adds value to Indonesian consumers, drivers and communities,” Mike Brown, Uber’s regional general manager, said in an e-mail to the Jakarta Globe on Monday.

Uber is a smartphone application that allows users to rent premium-grade cars — complete with a private driver — at an affordable rate. The app, which is also available in 43 countries around the world, was officially launched last Wednesday in Jakarta.

Uber’s statement came in response to an allegation by a Jakarta officer earlier on Monday, who had told reporters that Uber’s service was operating illegally.

Muhammad Akbar, chief of the DKI Jakarta Transportation Agency, told reporters on Monday that Uber has not proposed any kind of operational permit to the provincial government.

“Uber is categorized as a taxi company, because there is a passenger and there is a payment transaction. Thus, the service must be licensed as public transportation with a yellow license plate,” Akbar told reporters in Jakarta on Monday, referring to a law that mandates public transportation vehicles to use yellow-coded license plates as an identifier.

Uber should have sought for a permit with the Transportation Agency first before launching its operations last year, Akbar added.

By comparison, informal motorcycle taxi services operate freely and unregulated among the streets of Jakarta.

Brown stressed that Uber’s partners are all licensed, authorized transport companies and its operation in the Indonesian capital is fully compliant with the country’s laws.

“In 170 cities around the world, people are embracing Uber’s technology and welcoming innovation that brings greater safety for consumers, better income opportunities for drivers and more efficient and congestion reducing transportation options for communities,” said Brown.

Its not the first time that Uber has encountered disputes with authorities globally.

The San Francisco-based technology company has faced lawsuits from Washington DC, London and New York. Numerous cities around the world are even moving to outlaw the operations, such as in Seoul and Brussels.

Chan Park, Uber’s head of expansion for Asia-Pacific, said in an interview last Wednesday that the company was not a transportation provider because it neither owned the cars nor employed the drivers.Instead, Uber partners with licensed transportation providers in the area in a commission-based scheme, he added.

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