Wed, 14 Jun 2000

Bogor minivan drivers' strike in its second day

BOGOR (JP): Public minivan drivers took their strike into the second day on Tuesday, with crews from four other routes joining the protest and adding to local commuter misery.

The new recruits are drivers of minivan routes number 05 plying between Merdeka and Ciampea; number 05A (Merdeka - Leuwiliang); number 07 (Bojong Gede - Pasar Anyar); and number 32 (Cibinong - Taman Pagelaran).

The drivers parked along Kedung Halang intersection and sat around, refusing to take any passengers.

"I've been using motorcycle ojek taxis for the past two days and I have to pay Rp 20,000 for traveling from Jl. Baru to Salabenda. It's too expensive," said Ningsih, a Salabenda local who works at the Great River factory in Nenggewer.

The strike started on Monday, after drivers were told that other minivans were to take over their routes. They have also complained that many passengers are not paying attention to the new fare, which is Rp 200 higher than before.

Since then, thousands of commuters have been forced to seek alternative transportation, such as motorcycle taxis, which previously never served the routes.

The motorcycle taxi drivers appeared to be taking advantage of the commuters's predicament; their fares were almost 10 times higher than the minivans.

They were charging Rp 7,000 for the popular seven-kilometer Merdeka - Semplak route, while people heading from Jl. Baru to Salabenda paid Rp 10,000.

Delman (horse carriages) and becak (pedicabs) also flocked the main streets on Tuesday, also with inflated fares.

Delman fares were hiked by Rp 500.

Many commuters complained about the high prices.

Some of them started to burn tires on Jl. Raya Sindang Barang, Ciampea and Leuwiliang, but police quickly calmed the crowds.

No violence was reported, but Bogor Police were put on alert at several spots to prevent possible trouble.

Nurdin, a student from Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) blamed the city's land transportation agency (DLLAJ) for sluggish work in socializing the new minivan rates and responding to the drivers' demands.

"The administration is doing nothing about the strike. The police here are busy preparing trucks to load the passengers while the DLLAJ are not negotiating with the drivers," Nurdin said.

The protesters have turned down DLLAJ's plan of an additional 40 minivans operating in the area as there are already around 1,500 minivans plying the 15-kilometer route between Parung, Semplak and Bogor.

Bogor DLLAJ transportation chief Soebiantoro acknowledged that his office had run out of ideas on how to handle the matter.

"The drivers refused to talk to us and if we came close, they threatened they would vandalize the vehicles," he said later in the day.

It is not clear whether the minivan drivers will continue their strike on Wednesday. (21/edt)