Indonesia gives Grab, Uber ultimatum after protest from cab drivers
JAKARTA, Indonesia - The government Thursday, March 24 urged ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab to become business entities and partner with a local transport business by May 31 or face a ban after a protest organized by taxi drivers on Tuesday.
"It's in line with a government regulation from 2009 that all public transportation needs to be a legal entity, register and work together with legal taxi businesses," said ministry spokesman J. A. Barata.
In response to the order of government, Grab's Indonesian unit said it was already working with a local Indonesian partner. "Grab is now trying to ensure that our partner can and will follow every requirement from the government," said Ridzki Kramadibrata, managing director of Grab Indonesia.
There was no immediate comment from Uber.
Ride-hailing apps are being blamed by taxi drivers for dwindling their income. Thousands of taxi drivers gathered in Jakarta to express their anger on Tuesday, a protest that escalated quickly and turned violent.
Once incident involved protesters attempting to rip off the jacket of an ojek or motorcycle driver, while another involved taxi drivers taking an ojek driver's helmet and tossing it.
Anger has been growing among taxi drivers worldwide at the challenge presented by Uber, one of the world's most valuable start-ups, and a flurry of other app-based services that typically offer cheaper fares than traditional transport operators.
A day after the protests, Blue Bird taxi company provided free service for 24 hours in an attempt to restore its image following violent protests involving some of its drivers.
"The meter runs but I don't have to pay," Stuart Burney from Australia said in Jakarta after taking Blue Bird taxi on Wednesday, March 23. "Taking a free ride offered by the taxi company is pretty good."
Burney was one of the lucky ones since many people found it difficult to hail or order a Blue Bird cab on Wednesday. Netizens also complained about the supposed lack of taxis on Twitter, saying there was no point of it being free.
Some Jakartans also expressed fear of taking a Blue Bird. "I am afraid to take Blue Bird taxis even if it offers us a free ride, after seeing drivers attack ojek riders on TV," Daboe, a commuter in Jakarta, said to Rappler. New apps like Go-Jek have also allowed commuters to hail rides with motorcycles.
She also worried that ojek riders might be vengeful towards taxis.
Many drivers of ojek including Go-Jek and Grab, protected themselves from being attacked the day after the protests by taking off their uniform. Instead of their jackets that showed off their companies, they wore their own shirts instead.
"I don't want to wear my Grab jacket today," Igun, a rider working for Grab Taxi said. "The taxi drivers attacked my co-workers," he added.
Agus, another Grab rider, said that since Tuesday, he decided to not wear his uniform. Many of his friends who work for Grab Taxi made the same choice. "Maybe I will wear my uniform tomorrow," he said. - Rappler.com