Online ojek drivers wait for orders during large-scale social restriction in Jakarta on Sunday. (SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Ojek Not Allowed to Carry Passenger During Large-Scale Social Restriction in Jakarta

BY :DIANA MARISKA

APRIL 14, 2020

Jakarta. Since Jakarta kicked off its large-scale social restriction last week to try to curb the spread of coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of online ojek, or motorcyle taxi, drivers and millions of their customers have been ping-ponged by inconsistent and overlapping regulations that stop them from doing their business as usual.

Jakarta began the restriction on Friday, while its satellite cities Bogor, Depok and Bekasi in West Java plan to start it on Wednesday.

The goal of the restriction is to reduce people's activities and prevent face-to-face interactions between them. 

The cities' leaders have agreed to disallow ojek from carrying passengers. The ojek drivers can only deliver packages or food deliveries for the next two weeks.

Billy, a 22-year-old ojek driver from Grogol, West Jakarta, said since the capital imposed the restriction, he had lost more than 50 percent of his daily income.

Billy works for Gojek Indonesia, one of the country's largest online ride-hailing services. 

He said his income had fallen dramatically since the now-banned GoRide – Gojek's passenger-carrying service – has always earned him the most money. 

"GoRide orders make up around 70 percent [of drivers' income], the rest comes from GoSend [package delivery] and GoFood [food delivery]. If GoRide is deactivated, drivers can only get 30 percent of their normal daily income," Billy told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

"From six in the morning to eight in the evening, I can usually complete ten orders, even 12 sometimes," Billy said. "Today, I've only completed four orders, and it's almost eight o'clock already."

Inconsistent Ruling

The Health Ministry has stated clearly that no passenger-carrying online ojek service is allowed during the large-scale social restriction, or PSBB.

But on Thursday, the Transportation Ministry issued a ministerial regulation that contains an article stating that two-wheel vehicles are still allowed to carry passengers as long as health protocols are upheld.

The protocols include disinfecting vehicles, providing facemasks and wearing gloves for the drivers.  

The contradictory regulations have sparked confusion.  

Then on Monday, Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said it would be left to regional leaders to allow or ban the service.

Ride-hailing app Grab has released a statement declaring its commitment to comply with regional government directives and has deactivated the GrabBike service from its app for services within the Jakarta area.

Customers have been advised to use the GrabCar service instead.

In response to the upcoming PSBB in Bogor, Depok and Bekasi, Andre Sebastian, the public relations manager at Grab Indonesia, said Grab would stay committed to following regulations imposed by each city's government.

"We're still waiting for instructions from each of the regional governments. We will comply with whatever regulations they decide," Andre said to the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

So far, only Bekasi has confirmed it will also prohibit online ojek from carrying passengers during the PSBB.

Drivers and Customers Suffer Equally

Billy said he hoped the ban could be reevaluated. As for now, he still considered himself lucky since some of his fellow drivers had not completed any order in the past few days.

"I have the app for customers as well, and I haven't seen the GoRide service being made available again," he said. 

Billy said he'd heard of a plan by Gojek to assist driver-partners like him who have been severely impacted by the PSBB.

However, Billy said no representative from the company had reached out to him. Any information he got was relayed by his fellow drivers.

Meanwhile, Bekasi resident Chintia said the restriction has also had an impact on her commute to Jakarta.

Working in a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company in East Jakarta, she had switched from using GoRide to GoCar since Friday, for lack of other public transportation alternatives.  

Jakarta still allows companies serving essentials like food, beverage and healthcare to operate during the restriction. 

For these companies' employees, who don't have the privilege to work from home, the ojek ban could double their transportation costs. 

"Many people are impacted – and not just drivers. People who still have to come to the office during PSBB are forced to find alternative transportation. And the options aren't many," she said on Tuesday.

Michaila, who lives in Depok and works in Setiabudi, South Jakarta, also said the struggle to find transportation alternatives is the most significant disadvantage for workers in Jakarta who still have to come to the office every day.

"Fortunately, I can use a company car. But not every company can provide the same facility," she said.

She also said she had not heard much about the details of the PSBB in Depok.

Both Chintia and Michaila agreed the best possible alternative could be to let services, including ojek, continue as usual, as long as the drivers are equipped with the necessary protective equipment, including hand sanitizers and facemasks.

"Both the driver and the passenger should wear a facemask, and the passenger should wear their own helmet," Chintia said.

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