Fri, 25 Feb 2000

City to be free of 'becak' by April 1: Official

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration started netting any becak (pedicabs) operating on any street in the capital beginning last Tuesday in an attempt to become a becak-free city as of April, an official said Thursday.

"We expect there will be no more becaks in the capital after March 31," Deputy Governor for Administration Affairs Abdul Kahfi told reporters at City Hall.

Kahfi, however, gave no details on the number of pedicabs that already have been netted in the past three days

According to him, some of the netted pedicabs -- under the approval of the owners or drivers -- have been converted into vegetable carts funded by the authorities.

The drivers then are allowed to pedal their new carts to sell vegetables in housing complexes.

According to City Bylaw number 11 issued in 1988, pedicabs are banned in Jakarta.

Kahfi said the decision to hook three-wheeled pedicabs in the capital until March 31 was made after the deadline on the city administration's offer to purchase pedicabs expired on Monday.

Under the offer, which was imposed to show the authorities' tolerance, all becak drivers or owners here were given the chance to sell their pedicabs to the administration at Rp 250,000 (some US$35) each.

The city administration also offered transportation allowances worth Rp 50,000 for each pedicab driver who wished to return to his hometown.

According to Muhayat, an officer at the City Hall's Public Relation division, there are still over 6,000 pedicabs in the city.

On Thursday last week, six pedicab drivers claiming to represent some 130 fellow drivers lodged a civil lawsuit at the Central Jakarta District Court against Governor Sutiyoso, demanding the governor allow pedicabs to operate in limited zones, such as housing complexes and markets, in the capital.

Court official U.Dj. Sidabalok, who met with the pedicab drivers and their lawyers, said his office would open the hearing soon.

On Wednesday, the city administration announced that it has cooperated with at least four beverage firms to help solve the matter by providing chances for the ex-pedicab drivers to sell their drinks.

Head of the city's Manpower Agency, Sukesti Martono, said the offer would end coincidental with the March 31 deadline.

He added that the offer was aimed initially at jobless people in the capital since last December.

The four companies involved in the project are PT Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, PT Sinar Sosro, PT Indo Meiji Ice Cream and PT Aqua.

"The pedicab drivers could apply as (street and kiosk) traders for the firms' products," Sukesti said.

Those who have joined in the scheme have enjoyed daily earnings on average of some Rp 36,000 per person, he explained.

So far, Sukesti said, some 200 pedicab drivers have registered to participate in the project.

Aside from the scheme, the city administration has also offered to pedicab drivers and jobless alternative works, such as vegetable vendors, mobile food and drinks traders.

On June 25 last year, Governor Sutiyoso announced that his administration would allow pedicab drivers to operate in the city in an attempt to help the poor people to survive during the time of hardship.

The decision abruptly motivated some 7,000 people to begin pedaling their becak in the streets of the capital, which then forced the governor to reverse his decision.

He then instructed the city's five mayoralties to ban the operation of pedicabs beginning on June 30 which sparked a series of protests from the drivers and owners. (05/06)