Thousands of taxi drivers came out on the streets of Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, Tuesday to protest app-based transportation services, Uber and GrabTaxi. Police fired warning shots after protesters attacked taxi drivers who refused to take part in the demonstration.
According to television footage, several taxi drivers blocked the capital’s central expressway and some protesters set tires ablaze, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The protest is the second major demonstration this month by taxi drivers in Jakarta, who say that their income has been drastically affected by app-based services.
Driver Jeffrey Sumampouw told the AP that his earnings have dropped over 60 percent since Uber and other transportation services apps became popular in Jakarta about a year ago. “The government must defend us from illegal drivers who have stolen our income,” he told the news agency. “We almost cry every day because it's difficult to get passengers.”
The protests disrupted the daily commute in the city with people expressing frustration at the demonstrations.
“This protest is so terrible. They really are rude and overbearing. I was very hurt,” Dewi Gayatri, who missed her flight for a business trip, told the AP. “I still like Uber, and hope the government protects Uber, because it's so easy to order and cheaper,” she said.
The Association of Public Transport Drivers organized the protests after the Indonesian government announced this month that transportation services such as Uber, GrabTaxi and Go-Jek would be provided help to apply for permits to operate legally.
There was also an online backlash against Blue Bird, which is viewed as the most reliable taxi service in Indonesia, after videos showed Blue Bird taxi drivers attacking the vehicles of those not joining the protest. The company said in a statement that it would take action against the drivers causing chaos.
“If netizens have evidence [picture/video] showing the involvement of our drivers please report via social media or to our email,” Blue Bird said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “We need this evidence because Blue Bird drivers are not the only ones using blue uniforms.”
The company also asked passengers to report any loss incurred after they were forced out of the taxis during the protests.
Uber, based in San Francisco, has clashed with regulators and conventional taxi companies in several cities across the United States and Europe, as it has aggressively expanded in recent years.