War Of The Ojek - Go-Jek Drivers Fear Violence From Traditional Ojek

The meteoric rise of the Go-Jek driver has caused friction between them and their traditional, side-of-the-road cousins.While technology is making travel more convenient for customers, tensions are rising between the "old" and the "new" of the Ojek world. 

The question is: will the "War of the Ojek" turn violent? 

The Go-Jek app, featured in our article 14 apps that make living in Indonesia much easier, has revolutionized the way we use Ojeks. The set prices and GPS tracking has provided the unique Indonesian phenomena of the “motorbike taxi” regulation, efficiency and security that had always been lacking.

But with the coming of the “new,” the “old” fears for it’s survival.

This was epitomized by the story of Boris Anggoro that went viral this week - Boris, used his Go-Jek app to order an Ojek to pick him up from his office in Kuningan, South Jakarta. But it never arrived.

The Go-Jek driver soon contacted Boris to say that a group of local Ojek drivers stopped him in front of Boris’s office. “He said they would not hesitate to beat him up if he insisted on picking up a passenger in their area. The driver then told me that he preferred leaving to taking the risk.”

Boris then ordered another Ojek from the app, which again, never arrived. Leaving his office, a group of local Ojek drivers intercepted Boris and told him in no uncertain terms that he should be using Ojek drivers local to the neighbourhood.

Go-Jek has responded by saying competition with local Ojek drivers is not what it’s looking for, but to help them develop in the 21st Century. The benefits are clear, with Go-Jek providing their drivers with medical and accident insurance. If the attitudes of traditional Ojeks remain, that insurance may be needed!

Effendi Damanik, a 43-year-old Go-Jek driver says he’s always been cautious when picking up customers not from his regular territory. And because of the Go-Jek drivers green helmets and jackets, they are easy to spot.

“I will call my customers first to avoid having them wait for me near other ojek drivers because I’m afraid they will be irked,” he said.“They may think that we take their income, so we have to be considerate,” he said.

The previously hidden and unspoken rules of the Ojek world are becoming clear to the customers who were previously oblivious to how it opperated - every group of Ojek drivers, it appears, has unwritten territory laws.

Abdul Hakim, a 33-year-old traditional Ojek driver said, “We respect Go-Jek drivers who happen to have customers in this area. However, we will not tolerate any outside drivers who purposely look for customers in our area.”

With no recognized union or proper channels to vent concerns about their position in our tech-based future, the unregulated, Ojek gangs are coming to the floor in a potentially malicious manner.

The underlying problem of the traditional Ojek is not only coming to the floor in the Go-Jek age - The very way they attempt to prevent the inevitable makes their short comings all the more prominent. With the new accountability of the Go-Jek, it is the unaccountable elements of the Ojek world that are coming to the surface.

However it ends, one thing is for sure - the War of the Ojeks is only just beginning...