Guerrilla taxis and the revolution in your pocket / Ojek gerilya dan revolusi dalam kantongmu

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Guerillas in our midst

It took a phone call and a short walk to find Mas Fauzy. He’d responded to my order for a Grabbike on arriving at Bandung station, but when I got to the street there was no sign of him. In fact, there no green helmets at all, and no branded jackets, despite a fair amount of traffic on the streets.  Eventually I spotted him, waving gingerly from the side of the road, and jumped onto the back of his bike.

“Why aren’t you wearing your jacket?” I asked, half grumpy from the effort of finding him, half concerned I’d been picked up by the wrong bike.

“We don’t use them here, Mas,” he replied, grinning as he shook his head. “Online taxis aren’t really accepted here yet, so we don’t wear the branding – we work guerrilla style.”

As we wove across Bandung Mas Fauzy told me a couple of stories – about ojek online being attacked by old style motorbike taxi drivers, having their smart phones or branded helmets taken and vandalised, and some getting beaten up.

“That’s why I wear my bag on my front like this,” he told me, gesturing to his open backpack. “So that I look like a commuter – and I can check the app on my phone inside it. We need to be careful – I’ve heard of people putting in fake orders to try and trap ojek online.”


The revolution in our pockets

There’s a lot to say about the benefits of ojek (motorbike taxi) online. Because of GRUBERJEK (Grab, Uber and Gojek, the Big Three online taxi firms in Indonesia), consumers are far more likely to use an ojek: partly because it’s so much easier to find and order one (and all from the comfort of your home); partly because they’re cheaper than old-style ojek, and there’s a clear price system; partly because the quality of service is guaranteed (okay, almost guaranteed) by the training provided to drivers working for the Big Three, and because of the built-in feedback system that means that poor drivers must improve, or lose access to the service.

In the old days two or three years ago, a customer looking for an ojek late at night might get passed from driver to driver, looking for someone who’d give them a lift while the prices went up and up… I was put off ojek by a driver who turned out to be drunk, and drove like a madman through traffic jams and flooded roads until we finally crashed, leaving me to limp home with a bloody foot.

But to my mind by far the biggest and most important change in this new era of online transportation happens in the pockets of the drivers. The old-style ojeks in Bandung resist change because their income has dropped for single journeys – and they’re right, for single journeys. But without exception ojek online tell me that they make a lot more money since they’ve joined one of the Big Three. From 15,000 (US$1.15) to 50,000 rupiah ($3.75) a day operating independently on a street corner to 150, 200, 250 thousand rupiah per day – their average income has increased five fold. From 450 thousand rupiah a month to 4.5 million, to as much as seven-and-a-half million. Minimum wage in Jakarta is about 3.4 million rupiah per month ($260, give or take).

From waiting at coffee stalls on street corners all day, dependent on who might pass by, a driver can have customers all day, everyday. From living below the poverty line – like my neighbour, who often came home to his wife and kids with 15,000 rupiah in his hand after twelve hours waiting – I’ve met tukang ojek who are not only able to feed their families and pay the rent, but are putting their daughters through university.

Playing monopoly

So who loses? Of course, if a person can’t use a smartphone (like Pak Enjon, here), they’re left behind by this opportunity. Apart from that – it’s clear from the news that the owners and workers in other modes of transportation are feeling the competition. Angkot, buses, and especially the taxi companies, who have long profited from the paucity of good public transport services in Jakarta – are all losing out. Some take political steps to defend their monopolies, agitating for online taxis to be outlawed, or for unrealistic constraints to be imposed on their operations… while others bring their opposition violently to the streets, so that ojek online in Bandung and Jogjakarta and Surabaya fear conceal their identities, guerrilla style, and fight for their survival.

Points of friction as an economy shifts gears.



Ojek Gerilya

“Kok tidak pakai jasnya?” saya tanya ke Mas Fauzy, jengkel karena dia susah ditemukan di Jalan Kebun Kawung, dekat ke Stasiun Bandung. Anehnya, helm hijau dan jas berlogo ojek online tidak kelihatan sama sekali di jalanan, walaupun lalu lintas ramai. Akhirnya kami ketemu setelah dia telepon, dan saya melihatnya, diam-diam melambai dari pinggiran jalan.

“Nggak pakai, mas,” dia tangkis, cengar-cengir. “Online masih kurang diterima di sini, jadi nggak pakai branding – harus gerilya.”

Mas Fauzy menceritakan perlawanan dari opang (ojek pangkalan), yang pernah mengeroyok ojek online yang masuk wilayah pangkalan, merusak HP dan memukul orangnya.

“Makanya saya pakai ransel di depan, gaya pegawai kantor, biar ngak kelihatan mengecek app di HP di dalamnya. Harus hati-hati. Kadang juga ada panggilan tapi itu tipuan buat menjebak ojek online.

Tidak jauh dari Jakarta, tapi beda jauh juga.


Revolusi di Kantong Kita

Banyak yang bisa dikatakan tentang kelebihan sistem ojek online. Berkat GRUBERJEK, konsumen jauh lebih sering memakai ojek karena mudahnya mencari transportasi lewat app, karena lebih murah, dengan sistem harga yang jelas (information problem telah dipecahkan), dan karena mutu pelayanan juga terjamin (okey, hampir terjamin) dari training perusahaan online dan sistem umpan balik (ranking).

Zaman dulu, bisa jadi pelanggan dioper dari ojek ke ojek pada malam hari, mencari pengemudi yang siap membawanya pulang, bertanya-tanya apakah ada yang mau, seketika harga yang diminta ojek dimahalin terus. Pernah juga saya naik ojek dengan pengemudi yang ternyata mabuk – ngebut gila-gilaan, selap-selip di jalan sehingga akhirnya kami kecelakaan, jatuh di jalan, dan saya pulang dengan kaki berdarah.

Tetapi perubahan terpenting dari zaman online ini terjadi di kantong pengemudi. Opang di daerah melawan karena pendapatan mereka turun kalau sekali jalan. Benar itu, buat satu kali jalan. Tetapi tanpa pengecualian ojek online bilang ke saya, pendapatan mereka naik drastis setelah mulai memakai app. Dari 15 sampai 50 ribu rupiah per hari menjadi 150, 200, 250 ribu rupiah per hari, bahkan bisa di atas itu. Dari 450 ribu sampai 1,5 juta per bulan menjadi …. 4,5 sampai 7,5 juta. Bayangkan, seorang ojek online bisa dapat dua kali UMR.

Dari opang yang menunggu di warung sepanjang hari, bergantung pada siapa saja yang lewat, sekarang seorang pengemudi dengan Gojek, Grab atau Uber bisa proaktif mendapatkan pelanggan sepanjang hari. Dari keadaan susah – seperti tetangga saya yang dulu sering kali pulang malu, menghadapi anak isteri dengan 15 ribu di tangannya… sekarang ada tukang ojek yang tidak hanya bisa menafkahi keluarga, tetapi mampu juga membiayai kuliah putrinya.

Yuk, main Monopoli

Jadi siapa yang rugi? Kalau sesorang tidak tahu cara mengunakan smartphone (seperti Pak Enjon, di artikel ini), mereka tidak bisa memanfaatkan peluang ini, ketinggalan zaman. Selain itu – jelas dari berita bahwa pemilik perusahaan jenis transportasi lain rugi. Angkot, bis, dan secara khusus taksi, yang sudah lama diperkaya oleh karena buruknya transportasi umum di Jakarta  – semua rugi karena saingan yang baru ini. Ada yang ambil tindakan politik untuk mempertahan monopoli mereka, berusaha supaya taxi online dilarang, atau dipersusah… dan ada juga yang memakai kekerasan di jalan, sehingga ojek online di Bandung dan kota lain tidak pakai branding perusahaan online

Demikianlah, gesekan dari perUBERan zaman.


Pak Yudi, Parking Attendant / Pak Yudi, Tukang parkir

Pak Yudi

This morning I met Pak Yudi, who used to help people park in front of a petrol station near one of Jakarta’s major universities. He was a friendly guy and happy to chat about his work.

“It was great: the manager of the petrol station let me have the spot and didn’t ask for anything. I was busy all day with cars coming and going: lecturers and dentistry students mainly. I earned pretty well – they’d give two, or five, or even twenty thousand each time. I could make more than three-hundred thousand rupiah on a good day, and at least a hundred-and-fifty if it was slow. That’s about the same as the guys that direct traffic on street junctions, but I was relaxed – people always pay for parking, right?

“I used to pay a guy from the Department of Transport – every week I’d buy a book of parking tickets for eighty-thousand, which I never used. The tickets were only fifteen hundred rupiah, and if I’d used them, that was all I’d get!

“The police would come by a few times a day but they were fine and didn’t ask for money. From time to time they’d stop and hoot and I’d take them a cigarette or two, maybe a cup of coffee. There was no-one else to pay – no gangsters.

The Price of Progress

“But I don’t work there anymore – I’ve been unemployed for six months. Things are changing – the Transport Department has tightened up, and cars that park there get towed. There was a boss from Shell too – a Dutchman – who banned parking on their petrol stations. That’s how it goes – if there isn’t any work, I can’t work.”

Pak Yudi

Tadi siang saya ketemu Pak Yudi, mantan tukang parkir di depan SPBU dekat ke salah satu universitas terbesar di Jakarta. Orangnya ramah, senang bercerita tentang pekerjaannya di situ.

“Enak di situ – dikasih sama manajer pompa bensin, orangnya baik, tidak minta apa-apa. Saya sibuuuk, sibuk sepanjang hari, ada mobil keluar masuk, ada dosen, ada mahasiswa dokter gigi. Dapatnya lumayan – bisa kasih dua ribu, tapi biasa lima ribu, sampai ada yang kasih dua puluh. Dalam satu hari bisa sampai tiga ratusan lebih, kalau kurang, paling seratus lima puluhan. Kira-kira sama dengan yang Pak Ogah, tapi saya santai – selalu dibayar, kan, kalau buat parkiran.

“Saya bayar ke petugas DISHUB – setiap minggu delapan puluh ribu untuk membeli satu buku karcis, tapi saya tidak pakai: karcisnya seribu lima ratus doang, kalau dipakai yang kami dapat hanya segitu.

“Ada juga polisi yang datang setiap hari beberapa kali. Mereka baik-baik saja, tidak minta duit. Paling sewaktu-waktu kalau lewat, ‘iiiiiiii’ diklakson, ada pemahaman, saya datang kasih rokok sebatang dua batang, kasih kopi. Tidak ada preman yang harus dibayar.


“Sekarang mah, saya tidak di situ lagi – sudah enam bulan menganggur. Zaman ini berbeda, DISHUB jadi tegas, mobil yang diparkir disitu diderek, dan juga ada boss dari Shell – orang Belanda – yang bilang tidak boleh lagi parkir mobil di situ. Ya udahlah, kalau tidak ada pekerjaan, saya tidak bekerja lagi.”

Pramoedya Ananta Toer on knowledge / tentang ilmu pengetahuan

Ilmu Pengetahuan: tiada terhingga indahnya.

Dalam hidupku, baru seumur jagung, sudah dapat kurasai: ilmu pengetahuan telah memberikan padaku suatu restu yang tiada terhingga indahnya.

Ilmu dan pengetahuan, yang kudapatkan dari sekolah dan kusaksikan sendiri pernyataannya dalam hidup, telah membikin pribadiku menjadi agak berbeda dari sebangsaku pada umumnya. Menyalahi wujudku sebagai orang Jawa atau tidak aku pun tidak tahu. Dan justru pengalaman hidup sebagai orang Jawa yang berilmupengetahuan Eropa yang mendorong aku suka mencatat-catat. Suatu kali akan berguna…

– Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Bumi Manusia

Knowledge: beauty without end

In my life, as young as an ear of corn, I could already feel it: knowledge had given to me a blessing whose beauty was without end.

Knowledge and science, which I learned at school and whose evidence I witnessed myself in life, had made me a little different from my people. Whether I betrayed my Javanese form or not, even I don’t know. And it was precisely my life experience as a Javanese with the knowledge and science of Europe that drove me to write notes. One day, they’ll be useful…

– Pramoedya Ananta Toer, The Earth of Mankind

Right at his cutest / Masa lucu-lucunya

We didn’t know

Pak Iwan said, “I have four children. My youngest died, so three are left – two girls, and one boy. My youngest was a boy too.

“The oldest has already married – she’s given me two grandchildren. The second has just finished high-school – she’s looking for work. The third is in junior high.

“My youngest was two years and two months old when he died – right at his cutest. He’d caught dengue fever, and we didn’t know.”

Tidak ketahuan

Kata Pak Iwan, “Anak saya empat. Yang satu yang paling kecil tidak ada lagi. Tinggal tiga – dua cewek, satu lelaki. Yang paling kecil lelaki juga.

“Anak saya yang paling besar sudah menikah, dapat cucu dua. Yang kedua baru lulus SMA, cari kerja. Yang ketiga SMP.

Yang paling kecil ketika meninggal, usianya dua tahun dua bulan, masa lucu-lucunya. Kena demam berdarah – tidak ketahuan.”

The Great Escape / Tanah Menjadi Marmer – tiga rahasia menjadi kaya

Lihat ke bawah untuk membaca versi Bahasa Indonesia

Starting Small

Pak Andi grew up in a Jakarta slum, in a house with a dirt floor and walls of woven bamboo. His mum made their living sewing garments in a small factory, and he barely knew his dad.

“I’d peek through the gaps in the walls and watch our neighbours making love,” – Pak Andi throws his head back and laughs at the memory – “If they saw me they’d throw things and hit the walls and yell ‘Go to hell, China!'”

Pak Andi and his friends were born poor, and most of them still are. He tells stories of the guys who became gangsters and drug-dealers. The friends who went to prison. The friends who are dead.

Pak Andi is the one that got away. He built a business from nothing, selling cigarettes and other essentials on Indonesia’s outer islands, and now he owns a shopping mall in Jakarta, lives in a marbled mansion in an exclusive gated community.

Three Steps to the Epiphany

How did he do it? As he tells it, it was simple, really: he watched TV.

“My success all came from the films I used to watch as a kid. I’d watch American movies and see how rich people lived. They’d come home to beautiful houses with servants who opened the door for them and bought them drinks,  and I thought, ‘I’d like someone to open the door for me when I come home.’ So I decided I wanted to get rich, and I was ready to work hard to do it.

“I used to watch old Japanese war films and I learned from the fighting spirit of the Japanese soldiers – they achieve their mission, or they die trying. Failure is not an option for them. So I took this attitude in life and in business. If you want something, you’ve got to make it happen – no excuses, you have to succeed. Tidak boleh tidak – not allowed to not.

“And I loved MacGuyver! He taught me creativity – whatever problem he was facing, he found a way around it – McGuyver could get out of anywhere by building something from paperclips and bits of old rubbish.”

Like building a mansion from dirt and bamboo.


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Tanah menjadi marmer

Pak Andi besar di permukiman kumuh di DKI Jakarta. Rumah keluarganya berlantai tanah, berdinding anyaman bambu. Ibunya bekerja di konveksi, dan ayahnya tidak ada dari waktu Pak Andi kecil.

“Kami miskin benar saat itu. Pada malam hari saya mengintip tetangga saya bersetubuh melalui celah-celah anyaman rumah,” tutur Andi, sambil tertawa berbahak-bahak. “Kalau terlihat, marahlah mereka – saya dilempari barang dan diteriaki ‘Hai Cina! Enyahlah!'”

Pak Andi dan temannya sekampung terlahir dalam kemiskinan, dan kebanyakan dari mereka tetap miskin. Dia bercerita tentang temannya yang menjadi preman dan pedagang narkoba. Teman yang dipenjarakan. Teman yang mati.

Pak Andi satu-satunya yang lepas dari latar belakangnya. Sedikit demi sedikit dia membangun bisnisnya, mulai dengan jual-beli barang di Jakarta, dan setelah itu dia menjual rokok dan barang elektronik di pulau-pulau lain, sehingga menjadi kaya. Sekarang Pak Andi memiliki sebuah mall di Jakarta, dan rumah berlantai tanah itu ditukar dengan sebuah istana berlantai marmer di perumahan elit.

Tiga rahasia menjadi kaya

Apa sih, rahasianya menjadi kaya? Menurut Pak Andi, rahasia menjadi kaya adalah… menonton TV.

“Cikal bakal kesuksesan saya dari film yang saya tonton pada masa kecilku. Saya doyan nonton film Amerika yang tokohnya orang kaya. Saya kagum dengan gaya hidup mereka – pulang malam ke rumah yang mewah-mewah, dilayani pembantu yang menyiapkan minuman bagi bossnya. Dan saya pikir, ‘Betapa indahnya kalau nanti saya punya pembantu yang membuka pintu rumah bagi saya ketika saya pulang kerja.’ Jadi saya putuskan – saya akan menjadi kaya, dan saya siap berjuang untuk menjadi orang sukses.

“Saya juga suka nonton film Jepang yang lama, film perang. Saya belajar dari jiwa prajurit tentara jepang, yang tidak pernah mengalah. Bagi tentara Jepang, hanya ada dua pilihan: sukses, atau mati. Tidak boleh gagal. Saya ambil sikap ini dalam kehidupan saya, dan khususnya dalam bisnis. Kalau kita ingin sukses, kita harus berjuang mati-matian. Jangan kasih alasan kenapa kamu gagal. Harus sukses – tidak boleh tidak.

“Dan pengaruh terakhir… MacGuyverI love MacGuyver. Orangnya hebat – dari dia saya belajar kreatifitas untuk mengatasi masalah. Seburuk apapun situasi yang dia hadapi, MacGuyver bisa menanganinya dengan kreativitas dan kecerdasannya yang luar biasa. Menggunakan penjepit kertas dan sampah pun, apa saja dia bisa.”

Ibarat membangun istana dari tanah dan anyaman bambu.

Pak Tomo’s Tub / Bak mandinya Pak Tomo

Plumbing Business

I asked Pak Tomo how business was at his cafe.

Alhamdulillah.” (Praise God)

“So it’s busy in the warung? Lots of people eating?”

He smiled gently, shook his head. “Not busy, really, but it’s like filling a bak mandi (the tub that holds water for bathing). The tap drips all day, and by evening – alhamdulillah – it’s full.”

Ibarat bak mandi

Saya bertanya kepada Pak Tomo bagaimana bisnis di warungnya.


“Syukurlah Pak, kalau lagi ramai, ” jawabku.

“Ramai sih, nggak,” kata Pak Tomo dengan senyum pelan-pelan sambil menggelengkan kepalanya.

“Ibarat air mengisi bak mandi. Sepanjang hari mengalir dikit… Nanti magrib – alhamdulillah – baknya penuh.”

Bemo – Eye of the Tiger / Mimpi jadi Nyata

Lihat ke bawa untuk versi Bahasa Indonesia / Scroll down for Indonesian

Eye of the Tiger


Judging by its battered skin, this Bemo has lived a full Jakarta life: through years and over broken roads, taking traffic, crashes, dry-season heat, floods, and riots in its stride… Its face reminds me of a World War Two bomber, limping home after another mission to be patched up, reloaded, and sent again into the maelstrom.



The Bemo is almost extinct in Jakarta. I photographed the old soldier above near Grogol station in West Jakarta, and I gather there are still a few working routes around Blok M and Cililitan.

Not a lot of people know that the bemo‘s secret identity is the Daihatsu Midget. They were produced in Japan from 1957, with the model popular in Jakarta (the MP) realised in 1959. There’s an example in the Museum Transportasi at Taman Mini Indonesia, where you can read about the connection between the arrival of the Bemo, the Asian Games (held in Tokyo in 1958 and Jakarta in 1962), and GANEFO (Games of New Emerging Forces – Sukarno’s post-colonial, non-aligned bloc that stood apart from both Warsaw Pact countries and the Soviet bloc).

Apart from its unusual shape, two things strike me about the bemo: the first is that the petrol tank in the early versions was simply a jerrycan located between the driver’s legs, with a straw through the cap to feed the engine – easy enough to remove and take to the petrol station on foot. The second is how small the space in the rear is for its six passengers – perhaps more viable a generation ago when people were smaller. Apparently the bemo was never intended to transport humans, but Jakartans have always been inventive…

So I tip my hat and emote “thumbs up” to you, Bemofaithful servant of the megapolis:

Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

Survivor, Eye of the Tiger

Mimpi Jadi Nyata


Lihat wajah bemo ini, yang seribu kali menempuh jalanan Jakarta, gigih memikul bebannya menghadapi kemacetan, ketabrakan, terik matahari, banjir, kerusuhan… mengingatkan saya akan muka pesawat pengebom era Perang Dunia II, untuk sekian kali pulang terpincang-pincang untuk ditambal, dimuatin ulang, dan berjibaku lagi ke medan pertempuran…



Bemo merupakan jenis kendaraan umum yang hampir punah di Jakarta – saya memotret prajurit tua ini dekat Stasiun Grogol, Jakarta Barat, dan sepertinya masih ada beberapa di sekitar Blok M dan Cililitan.

Tidak banyak orang yang ketahui nama asli sang bemo adalah “Daihatsu Midget” (atau “kerdil”), buatan Jepang yang mulai diproduksi pada tahun 1957. Model yang umum di Jakarta adalah versi kedua, model MP, diproduksi dari tahun 1959. Ada contoh di Museum Transportasi di Taman Mini dan disitu terdapat informasi bahwa kedatangan Bemo ke Indonesia ada kaitan dengan Asian Games dan GANEFO.

Selain dari bentuk yang menarik, hal kedua yang menonjol bagi saya adalah tanki bensin versi awal, yang merupakan jerikan di kokpit yang gampang diangkat, dibawa jalan kaki ke pompa besin untuk diisi ulang… hal ketiga yang menonjol adalah sempitnya bagian penumpang, tempat beradu lutut bagi enam penumpangnya. Tentu saja, di Jepang kendaraan ini tidak dimaksud menjadi kendaraan angkut manusia, tapi tidak apa-apa kok, di Jakarta dari dulu mimpi bisa jadi nyata…

Saya angkat topi dan kedua jempol kepadamu Bemo, abdi negara yang setia – “janganlah berhenti percaya, engkau pasti akan ke sana…” (boleh juga coba menyanyikan  Eye of the Tiger).

UberX: Pak Ade and the new economy / Pak Ade dan ekonomi baru

Scroll down for Indonesian / Lihat ke bawah untuk membaca versi Bahasa Indonesia


A steady job? UBERrated

From a tale of two Bluebird Taxi drivers, to the experience of an old-style ojek left behind by the new economy, to this: the story of a brand new Uber driver.

Yesterday I took an UberX (a car, rather than motorbike taxi) driven by Pak Ade. He was a friendly guy, enjoying his day and happy to chat about his experience since becoming an Uber driver a short time ago. He told me:

“I’ve been online for four months, and alhamdulillah (praise God), it’s been good so far. Before, I worked in a bank. The work was fine, but to be honest, the salary wasn’t much. I got about three million rupiah a month, plus a few allowances and some overtime. My wife earned more than I did selling mobile phone accessories at Roxy – just for minding a kiosk! Yeah, even though it was a ‘good job’  I sometimes felt ashamed, earning less than my wife.

“So it’s like this: I’d heard about online taxis – people said you could make good money driving for them, but I wasn’t sure that I believed it. Then one of my friends at the bank quit his job, and took the risk of borrowing money to buy a Toyota Avanza and go online. He seemed happy enough, but what convinced me was when he came back after three or four months with another new car. He put someone to work in the old one and kept the new one to drive himself. I’ve got a wife and kids, and usually I avoid risk – but that was the day I decided that I’d leave the bank and go online.

“Alhamdulillah, so far it looks like the right decision. After paying for my loan on the car – six million rupiah per month – I have ten million left, gross. After petrol – a hundred and fifty thousand rupiah per day – after my family’s needs, jajan (snacks) for my kid and my own food, I have about two million a month, net, to save.”

Several of Pak Ade’s colleagues left the bank at the same time after seeing the success of that same friend. Now they make about five times what they made as employees – although Pak Ade is quick to remind me that “you have to stay focused and work hard.” At the moment he’s working far longer hours than he did at the bank: about fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. “It’s my choice. I’m my own boss, and I’m the one who profits from my hard work. I might slow down a bit later once I’ve paid off the car.”

In the last few years the competition between online ojek and taxi services and non-connected public transport has been in and out of the news.  Plenty of bus, taxi, angkot and ojek drivers feel they’re losing out because of competition from the online model. I compare the impact of GRUBERJEK to the introduction of Bluebird Taxi in the seventies: it’s easy to imagine the complaints of other taxi drivers angry at losing out because of Bluebird‘s ‘unfair’ technological and organisational advantages – radios, reliable meters and consistently good service.

For me, the interesting thing about the story of Pak Ade and his former colleagues is this: these aren’t taxi drivers moving from one business model to another, but bank employees with what are usually regarded as good, ‘middle class’ jobs leaving stable employment for greater rewards as online taxi drivers. How big is the exodus, and will it be felt across Jakarta’s labour market? Is it too much to hope that before long employees who stay in their jobs will not only benefit directly from the services of online taxis, but also enjoy rising salaries and retention bonuses – an unexpected blessing of efek GRUBERJEK.

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Zaman perUBERan

Dari kisah dua orang sopir Bluebird Taxi, ke pengalaman seorang Ojek tradisional, ke sini: pengalaman seorang sopir Uber.

Kemarin saya sempat naik Uber(yang pakai mobil), dikemudi Pak Ade. Orangnya ramah, dan senang bercerita tentang pengalaman dia sejak bergabung dengan Uber tidak lama yang lalu. Kata Pak Ade:

“Saya baru tiga bulan ini menjadi online… bagus juga selama ini, alhamdulillah. Dulu saya pegawai bank – pekerjaannya okey, tapi sebenarnya gaji tidak begitu bagus – dapat tiga jutaan, tambah tunjuangan sedikit, kadang tambah lembur. Isteri saya jualan asesoris HP di Roxy, jaga kios saja, dapatnya lebih banyak daripada saya di bank. Kadang malu sendiri, kalah sama isteri.

“Nah, begini ceritanya: saya pernah dengar tentang online, orang bilang dapatnya lumayan, cuman saya nggak begitu percaya, takut nggak benar itu. Tapi salah satu rekan saya di bank berani memundurkan diri, meminjam uang dan beli mobil Avanza, jadi online. Kayaknya dia senang juga, tapi saya jadi yakin ketika habis tiga, empat bulan dia kembali dengan mobil baru lagi. Mobil pertama dia kasih ke orang, dan dia beli lagi. Saya punya anak, punya isteri, bisanya nggak berani ambil risiko, tetapi saat itu saya putuskan daripada tetap di bank saya coba juga masuk online.

“Alhamdulillah, sejauh ini saya lihat keputusan itu benar. Sekarang setelah nyicil buat mobil – setoran enam juta setiap bulan –  masih tinggal sepuluh juta, kotor. Habis bensin – seratus lima puluh ribu rupiah per hari – habis harian keluarga, jajan anak saya dan harian saya buat makan, tinggal dua juta per bulan, bersih, buat tabungan.”

Kata Pak Ade, beberapa di antara mantan rekan dia di bank juga keluar setelah melihat teman mereka yang terlebih dahulu keluar dan berhasil. Pendapatan bulanan mereka kurang lebih lima kali lebih besar daripada gaji di bank dulu, walaupun memang menurut Pak Ade “Harus fokus, harus rajin,” – dia mengakui jam kerjanya sekarang lebih lama, kira-kira empat belas jam per hari, tujuh hari per minggu. “Tetapi enaknya, saya menjadi bos sendiri, dan saya sendiri yang dapat hasilnya dari kerja keras saya. Mungkin nanti saya bekerja lebih sedikit kalau mobil sudah lunas.”

Selama ini saingan ojek dan taxi online dengan angkutan umum biasa cukup nyata. Banyak pengemudi taxi, bis, angkot dan ojek merasa rugi oleh karena adanya yang online. Saya rasa dampak GRUBERJEK bisa dibandingkan dengan dampak Bluebird Taxi ketika baru mulai pada tahun 70an. Gampang dibayangkan saat itu juga ada taxi biasa yang naik pitam merasa rugi karena Bluebird memanfaatkan teknologi dan budaya perusahaan (radio, argo, standar pelayanan yang unggul dan konsisten) yang dianggap ‘tidak adil’ terhadap taxi lain.

Yang menarik dari kisahnya Pak Ade dan mantan rekannya ialah: dulu mereka bukan sopir taxi biasa, tetapi pegawai bank dengan pekerjaan ‘kelas menengah’ yang selama ini dianggap bagus. Walaupun demikian, mereka rela keluar dari pekerjaan yang stabil untuk mendapat keuntungan lebih besar di dunia taxi online. Pertanyaan saya, apakah dampak kecenderungan ini akan terasa di pasar pekerjaan secara umum?

Ada kemungkinan pegawai biasa tidak hanya akan merasa manfaat secara langsung dari jasa taxi online, tetapi nanti dapat juga menikmati kenaikan gaji ketika perusahaan terpaksa menaikkan gaji untuk mempertahankan tenaga kerja mereka. Demikianlah efek tak terduga GRUBERJEK.

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