Jakarta. The government and the House of Representatives have agreed to set the ball rolling to revise Indonesia's 2009 road traffic law and finally legalize motorcycle taxi as public transport.
The move will provide firmer base for app-based motorcycle taxi services like Go-Jek, GrabBike and Ubermotor to operate legally in Indonesia.
"The House has asked us to revise or amend the traffic law," Pudji Hartanto Iskandar, the director general of land transport at the Ministry of Transportation said on Wednesday (29/03) after meeting lawmakers.
Pudji said the ministry will soon return to the House with a draft of revisions to be discussed with the lawmakers.
While motorcycle taxi — locally called ojek — has existed in the archipelago one way or another for decades, past Indonesian governments had decided it was not safe enough to be considered as an official form of public transport and excluded it from public transport regulations, hoping it would go away on its own for being essentially illegal.
The 2009 law does not explicitly ban motorcycles from being used as public transport; it only sets strict safety and comfort standards that all public transport operators must comply with. But the law also bars individuals from providing public transport services — an inescapable clause for ojek drivers who often use their own motorcycles to drive passengers around.
A 2014 government regulation, that details the 2009 law, states only cars and buses can be used for public transport on the road.
Weak law enforcement by the police has allowed motorcycle taxis to survive. Now the rise of app-based transport services has elevated motorcycle taxi's popularity to unprecedented level, especially in Jakarta where cars or buses are less suited to deal with the city's traffic gridlocks — often considered some of the worst in the world.
Motorcycle taxis' inclusion in the 2009 Traffic Law will provide a legal base for the government to regulate the mode of transport, including imposing minimum service and safety requirements, said Nurhayati Manoarfa, a member of House Commission V, which oversees transportation, public housing and infrastructure.
Depok Leads the Way
Depok, a satellite city to the south of Jakarta, had already issued a new rule for motorcycle taxi on Wednesday, partly to prevent more clashes between drivers of public minivan — known as angkot — and motorcycle taxi drivers.
Angkot drivers have been complaining that many passengers, who used to travel on their designated routes, have switched over to motorcycle taxis, greatly reducing their already meager incomes.
Under the rule, Depok now bars motorcycle taxis from taking on passengers from the side of a road on which a public minivan is operating. It also bars motorcycle taxis from loitering on the road, near bus stops or near bus terminals to look for passengers.
"We're trying to keep the city's roads looking presentable; we already have a big problem with traffic jams as it is," Depok Mayor Pradi Supriatna said.
The mayor also encourages shopping malls and restaurants to provide designated spots for motorcycle taxis to meet or wait for passengers.
The new rule offered scant consolation for Depok's embattled public minivan drivers, who argued it would only lend credibility to a service that is illegal in the first place. "The regulation says two-wheelers cannot be used for public transport. Now [with the new rule], they're only going to get even more popular," said Agus Hariyono, head of Depok's public minivan drivers association.
The rule has also baffled Depok residents.
"How am I supposed to get on [the motorcycle taxi] if the driver is not allowed to pick me up on the side of the road? For me, online ojek has been a godsend. It's fast, cheap and comfortable," said Mia, a housewife from Depok.