An alleged abduction attempt by a driver for ride-sharing app Grab that was first shared on social media and subsequently became viral turned out to be the result of a “misunderstanding” between the parties involved, the Jakarta Metro Police said yesterday.
The incident involved a passenger, who has been identified as Istiani or Tian, who ordered a Grab car last week to get from her residence in Palmerah, West Jakarta to ICE BSD in Serpong via a stop at her office in Dharmawangsa, South Jakarta.
Tian became suspicious after faintly hearing the driver, who has been identified as Muhammad Imam, communicating in what sounded like cryptic code via a cellphone and even more so when Imam took the the car towards the Jakarta-Tangerang toll gate in Kebon Jeruk, instead of driving south to her first destination in Dharmawangsa.
“The driver said he made a mistake, he immediately drove to BSD so instead of driving to Gunawarman Street, he went straight there [to BSD],” Jakarta Metro Police’s spokesman Yusri Yunus said during a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.
As previously reported, Tian had questioned Imam’s route choice but he insisted he was taking her to Dharmawangsa street located in Tangerang instead of South Jakarta. Panicked, Istiani shared her location with her boyfriend and then tapped on the emergency button in the Grab app, which connected her to the company’s call center.
As she explained what was going on to the call center operator, Imam allegedly yelled at her while continuing to speak in codes to his phone. The driver then dropped Istiani off on the side of the toll road and drove away. Her boyfriend eventually picked her up.
After the incident went viral, Grab suspended Imam while the company carried out an investigation into the matter with Tian also filing a report to Jakarta Metro Police’s Crime and Violence Unit on Monday.
Yesterday, police apprehended Imam and questioned him, later concluding that the incident was merely the result of a misunderstanding. The driver told authorities that he’d entered the highway towards Merak Port because he thought that they were heading straight to Indonesian Convention Exhibition BSD. Police then facilitated a mediation between Tian and Istiani, where they agreed to make peace.
“I am withdrawing the police report as of today,” Istiani said at the press conference, as quoted by Kompas.
Imam said he has only been working as a Grab driver for a month. Responding to the accusation that he was speaking in code during the ride, Imam explained that he was on a call with someone at the time.
“I have been provided clarification [by investigators] about the whispers [cryptic code] that I heard. He was on a phone call, apparently he already explained [to the police] and his phone call has also been examined, he was calling his parents but he lowered his voice because he didn’t want to disturb me,” Istiani said, as quoted by Detik.
“For now, me and the driver have said our apologies and forgiven each other for the misunderstanding. Therefore, I’d like to apologize to Imam, [his] family, and Grab for all the fuss that took place,” she added.
Imam, a newcomer from Brebes, Central Java, also explained that he wasn’t familiar with the streets of South Jakarta. During the ride with Tian, he said he was following instructions from a navigation app on his phone, which glitched during the ride and led him to take the highway.
“The map got an error. Firstly, I asked Mbak Istiani if we’re going to Dharmawangsa. I pressed it [the map application], then the app directed me to go to the highway via Kebon Jeruk,” Imam said.
“I’d like to apologize to all involved parties from Grab, Jakarta Metro Police, and Mbak Istiani for the misunderstanding. This is because I haven’t really understood the Grab application. I don’t really know about South Jakarta, but I still understand West Jakarta a bit.”
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