Tensions have been bubbling between motorcycle taxi drivers (or ojek as they are known in Indonesia) and the ride-hailing apps they work for in recent weeks, with one particular protest in Jakarta against Singapore-based Grab turning violent yesterday.
The protest, carried out by a group of drivers calling themselves the Movement to Clobber Naughty Apps (Gerhana), began Monday afternoon just outside Grab’s office in Kuningan, South Jakarta. The demonstration soon turned chaotic, with riot police dispatched to the location to keep the protesters at bay outside the office building.
However, one video taken from inside the building shows the protesters pelting unidentified objects, resulting in one window being smashed.
Demo GRAB di gedung Lippo rusuh 😖 pic.twitter.com/gowBjflvyn
— 😷 Yeorobun ( 여로분 ) (@pemirsa) October 29, 2018
“It’s true, the window was smashed by demonstrators who were trying to enter the building,” South Jakarta Police Spokesperson Suharyono told Kompas, adding that the protesters also set flame to tires outside the office.
“We dispersed them using tear gas,” he said.
No arrests were reportedly made.
Yesterday’s protest was the follow up to a protest on Sept. 10, during which Gerhana demanded that Grab pay more attention to the welfare of its drivers and stop what they claimed to be exploitative practices. They also demanded that the government disband Grab and create a state-owned ride-sharing service if their demands aren’t met.
But Grab says yesterday’s protesters actually consisted of drivers who they had fired for cheating the system and who the company had actually already given a second chance by re-hiring them in 2017.
“But, unfortunately, they repeated their fraudulent actions, resulting in the termination of their partnerships [with us],” Grab Managing Director Ridzki Kramadibrata said in a written statement, as picked up by Kompas.
“We do not tolerate any acts of violence and we were ready to lend our support to the authorities to disperse the anarchist protesters.”
Last week, another group of ojek drivers fired by local ride-sharing giant Go-Jek for cheating the system — most for using fake GPS software to manipulate their location or create fake orders — threatened a 5,000-strong protest at Go-Jek’s office if they were not reinstated by the company. That protest never materialized, despite Go-Jek not meeting their demands.