Thousands of taxi and motorised rickshaw drivers have brought the Indonesian capital Jakarta to a standstill in a rowdy protest against what they say is unfair competition from ride-hailing apps.
Convoys of blue and white taxis operated by PT Blue Bird and PT Express Transindo Utama blocked the city's main thoroughfares on Tuesday, while clashes broke out between some drivers of traditional taxis and motorbike riders working for the online apps.
The drivers are angry that services such as Uber, Grab and Go-Jek are offering rides at lower prices, claiming they are not paying taxes and are operating without official permits.
"Right now there are legal taxis and illegal taxis," said Mat Ali, 54, who drives an Express taxi and says his monthly income has fallen 60 percent since app-based taxis became popular.
"We are not allergic to competition with Uber and Grab ... but we just want them to meet the government's requirements."
Tuesday’s protest is the second major demonstration by taxi drivers in Jakarta this month, who say that competition from ride-hailing apps has severely reduced their income.
Yet, the demonstrations seemed to elicit little sympathy from commuters in a city of 10 million people that already suffers massive congestion.
"This protest is so terrible. They really are rude and overbearing. I was very hurt," Dewi Gayatri, who missed her flight for a business trip to Makassar in eastern Indonesia, told AP.
"I still like Uber, and hope the government protects Uber, because it's so easy to order and cheaper," she said.
Jakarta, a city of 10 million people known for traffic jams, does not have a mass rapid transit system and dedicated bus lanes are often clogged with cars and motorcycles.
|Taxi drivers on strike clash with motorcycle ride-sharing app drivers [Reuters]
The city is building a metro system but it will not be operational until late 2018. Road restrictions caused by the building work has worsened the already serious traffic congestion.
Indonesia's president has welcomed the competition provided by the new companies, but the status of their operations in the country is still unclear.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said companies such as Uber were illegal unless they were registered as public transport providers and subject to the same rules as regular taxi operators.
But the Communications Ministry, which oversees the app operators, has said the firms can go on operating.
Companies such as Grab and Go-jek were running as usual on Tuesday despite the protests.
|The status of ride-hailing apps in Indonesia is still unclear [Beawiharta/Reuters]