What Can Be Done About Jakarta’s Unlicensed Van Drivers?
Anita Rachman & Arientha Pri manita
Retno Endah, 29, had a harrowing experience on board a public minivan, or angkot, that spooked her from ever using this mode of transportation again.
She said it happened a few minutes after she got into an angkot at the Slipi junction in West Jakarta. There were three men in the back with her, all of whom had gotten on after her at separate points.
Suddenly, she felt one of them push her in the back. When she turned to confront him, the man sitting across from her attempted to open her bag.
“It was scary, but I yelled at them,” she said. “I told the driver I wanted to get off.”
Retno did not lose anything in the incident, but she has sworn off taking angkots. “I only use ojeks [motorcycle taxis] now,” she said.
Crimes on angkots are common across Jakarta, but in recent months the city has seen a series of sexual assaults of lone female passengers. In one of those cases, a university student was raped and killed. The perpetrators, including the driver, were last month sentenced to life in prison.
Angkot driver Ratno Azwen, 47, says the drivers in those cases were bad apples who have put legitimate angkot drivers in a bad light.
“No driver with the proper documentation would do such a thing,” he said.
He said the rape reports had resulted in a decrease in passengers. “But only for around a week,” he said. “Then everything went back to normal.”
Kusrin, 40, another angkot driver, said the incidents had made life even harder for drivers struggling as more potential passengers buy motorcycles.
“The passengers can actually check whether we’re legitimate drivers or not,” he said, adding that his KPP identity card usually hangs from the rear-view mirror.
The KPP was implemented by the Jakarta Transportation Office in the wake of the rapes, along with uniforms for all drivers and a ban on tinted windows.
Udar Pristono, head of the Jakarta Transportation Office, said his office was conducting regular ID checks to weed out unlicensed drivers.
“But going after them is like cleaning up gravel,” he said, adding that it is only when angkots operate under regis tered companies that the checks will prove effective.
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