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

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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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Call me / Ojek Katolik

Versi Bahasa Indonesia di bawah.

Pak Enjon: On Driving, the Big Three, and a better life

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This afternoon I stopped in my tracks when I saw this ojek – motorbike taxi. It stands out a mile from the average ojek, especially in the GRUBERJEK era – Grab, Uber, Go-Jek, the Big Three app based taxi (including motorbike taxi) and liftsharing companies that have turned public transport in Jakarta upside down in the few years.

I got chatting with its owner, Pak Enjon, who was from Maluku, which at least partly explains its styling – apparently the Catholic church in (what is now) Indonesia started there in 1534. Pak Enjon didn’t want to me to take his photo, but he was happy to talk about life as a tukang ojek. He’s only just got into the game, having worked as a driver for a private employer until the middle of 2016. He says driving an ojek is a much better gig:

“Now, life is a lot more peaceful. Before, when I was a driver, my boss could bother me at any time. He’d call any time and I had to go. If I was just sitting down to eat and he’d call – I had to walk out and leave my food. He’d call me early morning with no warning – I might be in bed, tired or feeling under the weather, but if I got the call, I had to go. If I was just about to go for a pee and the boss said “Let’s go!”, that was it – I had to hold it. So nowadays things are better – much calmer.”

I got so into this side of the conversation that I forgot to ask about the decorations on his bike, but I did ask how business was for independent ojeks these days. Pak Enjon said that some days he brings home nothing at all – “If you’re an ojek and no one calls, you get nothing, right?”. On a good day he brings in about Rp50,000, about US$4, but it’s usually less.

When I asked him why he doesn’t join one of the Big Three to boost his income he smiled, a little bit malu:

“Yeah, it’s like this… I don’t know how to use a smartphone. I’m old! But no problem – I can sit here reading the paper, waiting for a call.”

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Pak Enjon: Kehidupan Sopir, GRUBERJEK dan saat teduh

Tadi siang saya berhenti di jalan melihat motor ini yang cukup istimewa, berbeda sekali dari ojek rata-rata, apa lagi pada zaman GRUBERJEK sekarang ini (yaitu Grab-Uber-GoJek, tiga start-up besar yang telah menjungkirbalikkan transportasi umum di Jakarta selama tiga tahun ini) . Saya ngobrol sebentar dengan pemiliknya, tukang ojek bernama Pak Enjon, dari Maluku. Tempat asalnya Pak Enjon membuat saya lebih paham hiasan Katolik motornya – Gereja Katolik pertama di nusantara dimulai di Maluku pada tahun 1534…

Pak Enjon keluar dari pekerjaan dia sebagai sopir pribadi pada tahun 2016, dan baru satu tahun menjadi ojek. Kata Pak Enjon, lebih enak jadi ojek:

“Sekarang, jauh lebih tenang. Dulu, saya sopir, kapan saja bisa diganggu dipanggil bos. Lagi makan, dipanggil – langsung pergi, meninggalkan nasinya. Pagi-pagi, tidur masih ngantuk, capek, ngak enak badan, di panggil bos – harus berangkat, mau ngak mau. Iya, kita kebelet, tapi bos bilang ‘Yuk! Jalan!’, harus menahan. Maka sekarang saya lebih enak, lebih tenang.”

Sebenarnya, ngak banyak yang dia ceritakan mengenai hiasan ojeknya, tapi saya sempat tanya mengenai ekonomi ojek ‘mandiri’ masa kini. Kata Pak Enjon, kadang dia tidak dapat apa-apa – “Kalau tidak ada panggilan, tidak dapat, kan?”. Keuntungan paling besar dia dapat sekitar lima puluh ribu rupiah, dengan rata-rata di bawah itu. Saat ditanya mengapa dia tidak bergabung dengan salah satu dari tiga besar GRUBERJEK supaya pendapatan lebih tinggi dia jawab dengan senyum sedikit malu: 

“Ya, gini, saya tidak bisa main smartphone, ngak tahu cara memakainya. Tidak apa-apa. Saya baca koran sambil menunggu panggilan.”

Pramoedya Ananta Toer on Jakarta streets, 1951 / tentang jalanan Jakarta, 1951

Banyakkah perubahan sejak tahun 1951?

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Panas waktu itu. Dan mobil yang berpuluh ribu banyaknya itu menyemburkan debu pada badan yang berkeringat. Dan debu yang merupakan berbagai macam campuran: reak kering, tahi kuda, hancuran ban mobil, hancuran ban sepeda dan becak dan barangkali juga hancuran ban sepedaku sendiri yang kemarin meluncuri jalan-jalan yang kulalui kini. Dan debu yang berpancaragam itu melengket bersama keringat seperti lem pada badan. Ini membuat aku memaki sedikit – sedikit saja – dalam hati.

Ya, sekiranya aku punya mobil – sekiranya, kataku – semua ini mungkin takkan terjadi. Di kala itu juga aku berpendapat; bahwa orang yang punya itu banyak menimbulkan kesusahan pada yang tak punya. Dan mereka tak merasai ini.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Bukan Pasar Malam

How much has changed since 1951?

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It was hot then. And cars in their tens of thousands sprayed dust onto sweating bodies. And the dust was a mixture: dried spit, horse shit, tiny crumbs of car tyre, pieces of bike and bejak tyres and maybe even the powdered tyres of my own bike, which only yesterday sped along the very streets I passed through now. And this mixed dust stuck to my sweat and covered my body like glue. This made me curse a little – just a little – in my heart.

Yes, if only I had a car – if only, I said – all this might never have happened. At that time too, I thought: people who have cars cause many problems for those who don’t. And they don’t feel it.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Bukan Pasar Malam, It’s Not an All Night Fair

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