Marshall Benjamin, Cinvy Anggriani, Vico Andriano Andreas & Michael Victor Sianipar
In December 2003, the Jakarta administration passed a now infamous regulation on vehicle occupancy along key thoroughfares in the city center.
The regulation, which became known as the “three-in-one” rule, requires all cars entering the streets in question during the morning and evening rush hours to have at least three occupants. Otherwise, the driver faces a fine.
The regulation was intended to encourage carpooling, thereby helping ease the city’s chronic traffic congestion. What it led to, instead, was a thriving industry involving people of all ages flagging down cars to offer to make up the passenger numbers — for a fee.
The job description for these people, known as three-in-one jockeys, is simply to stay in the car until the driver has exited the three-in-one zone, when they get paid and go back to waving down other cars.
The jockeys operate openly, lining up by the dozens along the various arterial roads leading to the three-in-one streets, even though the practice could theoretically see them fined Rp 1 million to Rp 12 million ($110 to $1,300) or jailed for a month to a year.
Udar Pristono, the head of the Jakarta Transportation Office, concedes that their presence is a sign of the failure of the vehicle occupancy regulation. “The jockeys are a consequence of the three-in-one rule,” he tells the Jakarta Globe.
He accuses them of causing public disorder by flagging down cars in the middle of the street and points out that under a 2007 city bylaw, they can be arrested by the traffic police or the city’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP).
Yet enforcement of the bylaw is virtually nonexistent. First Insp. Kusnadi, who regularly monitors traffic along Jalan Gatot Subroto, one of the three-in-one streets, agrees that the jockeys make traffic worse but claims not to know how to stop them.
“What the three-in-one jockeys are doing is illegal, but I don’t know the exact rules that the government has on them,” he says.
Most traffic officers overlook the jockeys, but once in a while raids are carried out to scare them off the streets.
Nurdiansyah, a 16-year-old jockey, was once nabbed by the police yet still managed to stay out of jail. “I was arrested and brought to the police station to serve a seven-day detention,” he says. “But I didn’t go to jail because my mother bailed me out for Rp 200,000.” Soon after his release, he went back to jockeying.
Yani, who has been jockeying for the past four years, says that while the pay can be good, it is anything but steady.
“In the morning rush hour I can get three cars and make Rp 10,000 to Rp 15,000 from each driver,” she says.
“But in the evening I might not even get a single customer. Some days I make Rp 50,000, other days I get nothing.”
Just as unregulated as the jockeys and even more ubiquitous are Jakarta’s ojeks, the motorcycle taxis notorious for weaving dangerously through traffic, riding on the sidewalk and taking up entire lanes of traffic as they wait for passengers beneath overpasses and footbridges.
Udar says that like the three-in-one jockeys, ojeks represent another community solution to the traffic problem. “They’re certainly not regulated under any laws, like bajaj [motorized trishaw],” he says.
Because ojeks are not categorized as public transportation, passengers riding them who are injured in traffic accidents are not eligible for the insurance provided by the state. “So if people choose to use them, they’re doing so at their own risk,” Udar says.
The drivers are also not eligible for coverage under the government’s social security scheme for workers.
But with traffic in Jakarta typically moving no faster than 20 kilometers an hour, residents say the agile ojeks are essential for getting around quickly.
Susan, who travels by ojek regularly, says she prefers it to other forms of public transportation because it’s faster. And because she is the passenger, she feels she doesn’t have to wear a helmet — an offense for which the driver, and not her, could be fined.
Many ojek drivers are resistant to efforts to regulate the practice. Jaenal, one such driver, argues this would mean having to apply for public transportation operating permits and other paperwork.
He says it could be difficult for many drivers to meet the administrative requirements as many lack a driver’s license.
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