The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, April 18, 2016, Page Page 4, Image 4

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April 18, 2016
Traffic-clogged Jakarta tests rush-hour carpooling
By Niniek Karmini and Stephen Wright
The Associated Press
AKARTA, Indonesia — Lines of
people from women holding babies
to school-age children, with a hand
held up to show they’re for hire, are a
ubiquitous sight on the Indonesian
capital’s busiest roads during rush hour.
But not earlier this month. Traffic-
clogged Jakarta suspended its peak-time
rule of three people to one car. And the
passengers for hire, known as jockeys, who
helped drivers cheat the traffic controls,
were out of a job.
By lifting the 3-in-1 rule, city authorities
tested what happens to congestion. If
there’s no difference to the number of cars
on the road, they’ll know that a system in
place for more than a decade is broken.
Abandoning the policy will be bad news
for the poor in a city where maddening
traffic produces numerous novel ways to
eke out a living. Apart from jockeys, there
are self-appointed U-turn police and
parking wardens who are tipped by drivers
despite sometimes hindering more than
“I want the authorities to extend the
3-in-1,” said Muhammad Asmin, a
27-year-old who dropped out of school to
become a jockey more than a decade ago to
earn money for his family. “It is good for us,
the poor, even if it’s not working,” said
Asmin, who earns up to $15 per day by
hopping in and out of cars.
Jakarta is one of the world’s most con-
gested cities, according to a study of how
often vehicles brake during a commute.
Officials estimate Jakarta’s traffic jams
cause economic losses of about $3 billion
per year.
The 3-in-1 rule was introduced in 2003
and the jockeys appeared soon after. Since
then, the traffic has only gotten worse,
mainly because more Indonesians can
afford cars, which has overwhelmed a road
network that has hardly grown. The
carpooling policy has a particularly bad
image since it’s widely regarded as
ineffective and also involves children, who
take huge risks by getting into the vehicles
of strangers.
“We have been blamed for worsening the
gridlock, but the government didn’t
provide sufficient jobs for us,” said Alfa
Wahyudi, a 21-year-old who came to
Jakarta from Borneo six months ago.
“Don’t blame our presence if the
government is unable to provide us jobs.”
her baby while signalling to show she’s for hire as a
“jockey” to help drivers cheat a peak-time traffic rule
of three people to one car during rush hour, at the
main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. Traffic-
clogged Jakarta suspended the peak-time traffic rule,
raising concerns among the jockeys that they could
lose their way to eke out living. (AP Photo/Achmad
The convenience of travelling on a 3-in-1
road is such that some drivers have
arrangements with two or three regular
Repeated crackdowns on the jockeys,
who quickly scatter into side streets at the
sight of police, failed to wipe out the
profession. If caught, they are taken to a
detention center for a couple of weeks and
asked to sign a letter promising not to work
as a jockey again. But many say they
return to the roadside as soon as they
Wulandri, who was twice caught and
sent to a detention center, said it was no
deterrent compared with the $10 she could
easily make in a day. As the mother of a
one-year-old boy, she was popular with
drivers because it meant they could get
two passengers for the price of one.
“I purposely brought my child because
usually a single driver does not have to pay
for two jockeys and they are often sorry for
the woman who was carrying a baby,” said
Wulandri, who goes by one name.
Uber starts motorbike taxi service in Indonesian capital
By Stephen Wright
The Associated Press
AKARTA, Indonesia — Ride-
hailing app Uber has launched a
motorbike taxi service in the
Indonesian capital where Southeast Asian
rivals Go-Jek and Grab are already
battling for dominance.
Jakarta is one of the world’s most
congested cities and motorbike taxis
ordered from a smartphone app have
exploded in popularity in the past 18
months as a way to beat snarled traffic.
Uber said that its “UberMotor” service
would provide cheap and reliable
transportation for hundreds of thousands
of people.
The company used a local social-media
and YouTube star, Arief Muhammad, to
launch its service, saying he was the first
person in Jakarta to use an Uber
motorcycle taxi.
Both Go-Jek, an Indonesian startup,
and Grab, which operates in several
Southeast Asian countries, claim to be the
biggest provider of motorbike taxi rides in
The popularity of motorbikes and
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regular taxis ordered from a smartphone
has provoked a backlash in the taxi
In March, thousands of taxi drivers
caused traffic chaos in Jakarta in a violent
protest against what they believe is unfair
FIERCE COMPETITION. Taxis line up during
a protest against competition from ride-hailing apps
such as Uber and Grab at the main business district
in Jakarta, Indonesia. App Uber has launched a
motorbike taxi service in the Indonesian capital where
Southeast Asian rivals Go-Jek and Grab are already
battling for dominance. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim,
Drivers say the apps, which are using
funding from venture capitalists to offer
heavily discounted fares, have severely
reduced their income. The app companies
say the transport industry should adapt to
new technology.
The Indonesian government is drawing
up new regulations to govern transport
apps, but has so far resisted calls to ban
Uber and similar services.
Officials estimate Jakarta’s traffic jams
cause economic losses of about $3 billion
per year.
In Australia, surfing soothes asylum-seekers’ fears of sea
Continued from page 2
collide, and they belly flop more than they
stand. But more than anyone else in the
water, they laugh.
This kind of joy is exactly what the staff
at Settlement Services International
hoped to achieve when they launched the
surf program last year. They knew their
clients were grappling not only with the
trauma associated with their boat
journeys and the wars and persecution
they had fled, but also with the anxiety of
settling into a new country.
Sandra Oehman, a case manager at the
not-for-profit organization and a surfer
herself, researched the concept of ocean
therapy, which has been used to help
everyone from sexual assault survivors to
war veterans. Many find that being in the
water and focusing their energy on riding
the waves produces a calming sensation
that helps clear the mind. Maybe, Oehman
thought, it could do the same for her
Her manager, Robert Shipton, thought
it was a brilliant idea. After all, their or-
ganization’s goal is to help asylum-seekers
adapt to their new culture — and what
could be more Australian than surfing?
Conscious that students might harbor
fears of the ocean, instructors took a grad-
ual approach, said Miley, the surf school
director. First, they encouraged the men to
go in the water just up to their hips, then
helped push their boards onto the waves,
and calmed any jitters along the way.
The technique worked wonders for the
dozen or so participants, who quickly
gained confidence and became so
enamored with the sport that many of
them now surf on their own, using boards
donated by locals and the surf school.
“We just found that once we just
encouraged people and got them in and
gave them that safe space to be in the
water, that very quickly those worries
about anything that had to do with the
water — that just disappeared,” Shipton
says. “And it’s now to the stage where
they’re like, ‘Let’s go to the beach, we want
to go surfing, let’s do it more!’“
Danny, an asylum-seeker from Iran who
was part of the pilot group, said surfing
helped clear his head of the horrors he left
“It was very different from my (boat)
journey,” says Danny, who like the other
students spoke on condition that their last
names be withheld to protect themselves
and loved ones in their home countries.
“My worries when I was in the ocean were
gone and I had the feeling of freedom. And
I was happy.”
Back at the beach, Kumar, an
asylum-seeker from Sri Lanka, hops off his
board after riding a wave into shore. He
can’t stop grinning. In his former life as a
fisherman, he spent a lot of time on the
water. But it was nothing like Bondi.
“I will never forget this,” he says. “Ever.”
The waves are growing along with the
students’ fatigue. Amin’s muscles are
tired, but he isn’t ready to quit. Bigelow
pushes his board onto a wave. Amin stands
up for a brief moment — then pitches
face-first into the water. He emerges from
the whitewash, claps victoriously at his
progress, and paddles back out for more.
Another wave is coming. Bigelow counts
it down: “3-2-1 ... Go!”
And this time, Amin has it. He stands
up, steady on his feet, coasting atop the
water and whooping in glee. “AHHH!” he
screams. “It feels good!”
In the shallows, he pauses to catch his
breath, face lit by a smile and the warm
Australian sun. Today, that miserable
boat trip — and the fear that went with it
— feel a world away.
“I took a chance in my life,” he said of his
journey to Australia. “I have to win or lose
my life. I didn’t lose, I win — because I was
stronger than the ocean.”
Then, surfboard slung under his arm, he
turns and trudges jubilantly back into the