Officials in Bali have confirmed that online ride-hailing services are legal in Indonesia. The confirmation comes after a video went viral online of a local taxi driver harassing domestic tourists for using an online taxi service.
The local taxi driver has since been arrested and questioned, but the incident bought the issue to the table once again.
In response to the viral video and backlash against aggressive tactics from local taxi drivers, the Bali Transportation Agency (Dishub) has confirmed that online ride-hailing services are legal to use and that tourists are welcome to book drivers through the apps.
However, officials from the Bali Transportation Agency have also said that there must be mutual cooperation between online taxi drivers and local taxi driving organizations.
Citing the Bali Governor Regulation Number 40 of 2019 concerning Application-Based Special Transport Vehicles, the Head of Disub, I Wayan Gede Samsi Gunarta, shared his views on the situation.
He said, “There is no prohibition for online motorcycle taxis to operate anywhere. That means if he (local motorcycle taxi) is official [legally registered], yes he must work together with online motorcycle taxis [drivers] to be able to pick up passengers,”
Gunarta added, “If he (online motorcycle taxi) enters the operational area of the [local] taxi base, he is obliged to cooperate with the motorcycle taxi base.”
He called on both parties to continue to cooperate with one another, but his comments appear to sway in favor of local taxi drivers, noting that online drivers must honor the local rules of the taxi bases in each location.
The whole conversation has resurfaced following an incident that went viral on social media earlier this week.
The whole saga was filmed and published online in a series of clips. The video shows a local taxi driver harassing tourists from inside the taxi they ordered online.
The local driver demands IDR 150,000 from them in order to use an online taxi service on his patch.
The tourists were on the way to the airport and had begun negotiations with the local driver before opting for an online service as his price was reportedly too high.
The driver was later arrested by police, and it came to light that 40-year-old Kadek Eka Putra was not originally from local to the area he was claiming to be his patch but rather from further north in Kintamani.
Nevertheless, Putra has since apologized for his outburst and told reporters that he was in a “back-to-the-wall” situation and was desperate for money.
Sadly there are countless reports and anecdotal evidence of hostility towards online taxi drivers and tourists using said services by local taxi drivers. So, what are tourists supposed to do when they need a taxi?
Well, the advice from the national tourism board, Wonderful Indonesia, is as follows “opt for official taxis, reliable ride-sharing apps, or pre-arranged transportation through your accommodation, ensuring every ride is a seamless and secure experience.”
Generally speaking, if there is a sign saying no GoJek, Grab, or Uber, then this should be respected. Instead, talk with the local taxi drivers in the area and negotiate a fair price for the journey you wish to take.
If you’re not happy with the deal and wish to proceed with an online booking service, then generally, people choose a pickup point a few minutes walk from the taxi stand where online booking platforms are allowed.
If in doubt, as suggested by Wonderful Indonesia, accommodation providers, whether a hotel or local guesthouse (and many restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions), will be able to help guests get from A to B safely and for a fair price.
Tourists planning their trips to Bali may end up becoming even more reliant on motorcycle taxi services for short journeys in the coming months.
Governor Koster has proposed a ban on tourists driving mopeds on the island.
While the ban is still in the discussion stages, if implemented, tourists would no longer be able to hire mopeds to explore the island on their own.
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