Protest aftermath: Go-Jek warns drivers against retaliation, Uber wins big

Blue Bird Taxi Group is in full damage control mode now after viral videos and photos emerged of the company’s drivers being involved in yesterday’s violent public transport driver protest, leading many to say online they would no longer be using the once trusted brand’s taxis in the future. The company’s offer of free rides today doesn’t seem to working out either.

But how about two of Jakarta’s other biggest transportation players – Go-Jek and Uber? Both were obviously heavily impacted by yesterday’s event but both are dealing with it in different ways.

Images of Go-Jek drivers being attacked by protesters (such as the one above) were among the more disturbing sights from the day. However, there were also reports in the media of Go-Jek drivers, angered by the attacks on their colleagues, fighting with taxi drivers as well.

Go-Jek CEO Nadiem Makarim released a statement and video, addressed to the company’s drivers, warning them not to engage in any planned retaliatory attacks in revenge of yesterday’s violence. 


Himbauan Nadiem untuk Driver GO-JEK 22 Maret 2016

Rekan Driver yang tercinta,Saya mendengar informasi bahwa terdapat rekan driver yang berkumpul dan merencanakan aksi tandingan karena kekerasan yang dialami beberapa Driver GO-JEK. Saya pun sedih melihat rekan kami menjadi korban kekerasan ini, tapi tolong diingat: Kekerasan tidak akan menguntungkan siapapun dan hanya akan merugikan diri kita sendiri dan keluarga. Jika Anda bangga menjadi Karya Anak Bangsa, hindari kekerasan. Jika Anda ingin terus menjadi pahlawan jalanan senusantara, hindari kekerasan. Jika Anda mencintai keluarga Anda dan masa depan mereka, hindari kekerasan.Kami sudah berkoordinasi dengan polisi untuk mengamankan daerah-daerah rawan. Jangan ambil tindakan sendiri. Sekali lagi, Saya mengecam semua tindakan kekerasan. Dan saya akan membantu menindaki semua pelaku kekerasan, termasuk kalau dilakukan mitra GO-JEK.Nama GO-JEK berkibar merah putih sejak kita berdiri. Saat ada terrorisme, kami membantu mengungsikan orang. Saat Jakarta banjir, kami ada untuk masyarakat. Janganlah nama tersebut dinodai dengan kekerasan.Saat-saat kritis inilah yang menguji kemanusiaan kita. Rekan-rekan driver yang tercinta, damaikanlah hati.Salam satu aspal.- Nadiem Makarim

Posted by GO-JEK on Tuesday, March 22, 2016


In the statement, Nadiem says he was saddened to see the attacks on his company’s drivers but emphasized that violence would solve nothing and benefit nobody. He said Go-Jek was coordinating with the police to secure vulnerable areas and that they would work together with law enforcement to catch any perpetrators of violence, including Go-Jek drivers.

We’ll have to wait and see if the CEO’s warning is heeded or if yesterday’s violence will indeed cause a resurgence in the tensions between conventional taxi drivers and online ojek drivers.

As for Uber – one of the main targets of the protesters wrath – they seem to have emerged as the only big winner of the day. Many of the netizens who took to social media saying they would no longer be using Blue Bird or other conventional taxis said they would be turning to Uber instead. 


In addition to winning the PR war, Uber and its drivers appear to have benefitted financially from the protests. Uber customers eager to use the service to get around the chaos pushed demand up until Uber’s surge pricing model came into effect.

In an SMS to its drivers yesterday (picked up by Kompas), Uber management wrote: “The demand today is so high that surge prices are up to 5x in certain areas. In addition, do not forget that, especially in these days, you can get Rp 50,000 per hour online. See the provisions at Remain cautious on the road and drive safely. Uber oN!” 

Kompas also reported that Uber, anticipating yesterday’s heavy demand, doubled the profit per payment each driver would receive per trip to make sure that there were enough Ubers on the road. The company’s management also warned its drivers to avoid areas with protesters.

It’s hard to predict what will happen from here, but our tentative guess is that a huge swing in public opinion in favor of online ride-hailing services will speed up the government’s current efforts to legalize and regulate them. We can also see many of Jakarta’s taxi companies shrinking or dying off in the not-so-distant future as a consequence of both the increased competition as well as increasing public distrust in their services.


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