Jakarta. Thousands of motorcycle taxi drivers plan to hold demonstrations during the opening of the Asian Games on Saturday (18/08) to demand higher fare tariffs.
An estimated 50,000 drivers will protest outside Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Central Jakarta, while 10,000 are expected at Jakabaring Sport City in Palembang, South Sumatra.
The drivers, who are all members of the Two-Wheeled Action Movement (Garda), have been demanding since last year for the tariff to be increased to Rp 3,000 (20 US cents) per kilometer from Rp 1,200-Rp 1,600 per kilometer currently.
Garda represents nearly a million motorcycle taxi drivers working for both Go-Jek and Grab – the largest online-based ride-hailing firms in Indonesia.
"The tariff is based on their own calculation without taking ours into consideration. The motorcycles are provided by us, fuel is provided by us, maintenance is also provided by us. Moreover, if we are involved in an accident, we have to carry the responsibility," Igun Wicaksono, a member of Garda, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
He said between 2012 and 2015, when rates still ranged from Rp 3,000 to Rp 4,000 per kilometer, drivers only had to work between eight and 10 hours per day to make a decent living, while the current tariff is forcing them to work more than eight hours a day to earn the Jakarta minimum wage of Rp 3,8 million a month.
"These companies are valued in the trillions of rupiah and they make huge profits at the expense of the drivers, who work almost 24 hours per day on the streets," Igun said.
The two sides have sat down for talks, mediated by the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the police, multiple times since last year to try to resolve the issue but all efforts have so far ended in deadlock. The last negotiations on Aug. 3 were mediated by the Jakarta Police in an attempt to convince Garda to cancel its planned protest.
Motorcycle taxi drivers held demonstrations on three different occasions since last year, not only to demand a return to the standard tariff, but also for the government to immediately create a legal framework for online-based ride-hailing services.
"This has been an unfulfilled demand since last year, because those companies do not appreciate what their driver partners do [for them]," Igun said.
However, Grab Indonesia managing director Ridzki Kramadibrata said last week that the company just raised the minimum fee to Rp 2,300 from Rp 1,600 recently and that it has no intention to do so again as this will ultimately have a negative effect on drivers' incomes.
"Drastic and too high tariff increases risk jeopardizing driver partners' incomes, as passengers will compare these rates to other modes of transportation," Ridzki said.
Go-Jek has yet to respond to the Jakarta Globe's request for comment.
Jhoni Allen Marbun, a member of House of Representatives Commission V, which oversees infrastructure and transportation, said the protest is unnecessary, especially during the Asian Games, as the tariffs are already quite favorable for drivers.
"Protest is a right, but use it for the right thing. Moreover, we will be visited by athletes from various countries, so we should show that we are a country that welcomes our guests properly," he said.