Pedicab conspiracy: vice governor claims becaks being brought into Jakarta to ‘destabilize’ capital

Traditional becaks lined up on a street in Bogor, West Java.
Traditional becaks lined up on a street in Bogor, West Java.

When Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that he would allow becak (bicycle taxis) to once again ply their trade recently, many criticized the idea of letting the long-banned vehicles back onto the capital’s streets.

Anies assured the public that the becak would only be allowed to operate on certain special roads and that it would not add to the capital’s traffic chaos. But now there are reports that numerous becak drivers from outside Jakarta are coming to work here, leading Anies’ vice governor, Sandiaga Uno, to claim that the drivers are being brought to the capital as part of a “mobilization” effort to destabilize the capital.

“We will deliver a message to this mobilization (effort), Jakarta will not be silent and unaware of the destabilization activities in the capital region,” Sandiaga said on Sunday as quoted by Kompas.

Sandiaga said he had received reports that many rickshaw drivers from Indramayu were being brought to Jakarta by truck as part of an organized effort. He did not specify which actors might be behind the conspiracy to bring outside becak drivers to Jakarta but implied it was politically motivated.

The vice governor was adamant that any pedicab drivers from outside of the capital would be repatriated by authorities as only current Jakarta citizens were allowed to take advantage of the government’s becak un-banning.

Sandiaga also reiterated Anies’ points about why they decided to reauthorize bicycle taxis, saying it was about economically empowering individuals and that the government would provide them with training as well. He also said that a new environmentally-friendly electric becak model would be used in Jakarta.

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