Bali taxi drivers are angrily demonstrating against popular transport-service-provider apps Uber and GrabTaxi.
Hundreds of the island’s taxi drivers reportedly set up in front of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) in Denpasar on Thursday afternoon.
Ketut Suwitra, coordinator for the protest, said that the taxi drivers are demonstrating as defenders of the local transportation industry in Bali against newcomer international apps Uber and GrabTaxi.
“Four-wheeled vehicles have been operating under the names Uber Taxi and GrabTaxi. They have taken the road that we in local transport make a living from. But in fact, if tracked, these vehicles do not have permission to operate,” Suwitra explained, as quoted by Antara.
He continued that the goal of the protest is to put pressure on the Bali provincial government and members of parliament to address the regulation problem.
“Yeah, as a matter of fact, taxis that operate using internet apps must be stopped if they’re not licensed.”
From the government side of it all, DPRD Bali Chairman Nyoman Adhi Wiryatama made a statement about looking into these “allegations” that makes the government sound as if they’re miles behind what’s going on, or the more likely possibility that they’ve been turning a blind eye.
“I’m not technologically sophisticated enough to know how transactions from Uber and GrabTaxi are conducted to transport passengers. However, if the transport really has no permit, we will act firmly so that they stop operating,” Wiryatama said, as quoted by Antara.
This angst against Uber and GrabTaxi sure is reminiscent of the outcry from ojek (motorbike taxi) drivers across Indonesia pushing for a ban on the app Go-Jek. But as we saw last month when the Transport Minister moved to ban the app, President Jokowi quickly stepped in to save the app as Indonesian netizens voiced support for the app and #savegojek became a huge trending hashtag.
So, will Uber and GrabTaxi get the same kind of love and how will this go down on the local provincial level?
The local taxi industry seems to be way more organized and powerful than the local ojek industry, so Uber and GrabTaxi may not be quite as lucky as Go-Jek was. But we’ll have to wait and see how the government moves forward from here.