Mon, 30 Oct 2000

Council endorses proposal to raise taxi fares by 45%

JAKARTA (JP): After a one-month suspension, the City Council endorsed the 45 percent fare hike proposed by taxi companies in the capital.

"The City Council has endorsed our proposed 45 percent fare hike and sent its letter of approval to Governor Sutiyoso.

"We are now waiting for the governor's decree on the effective application date of the new fare," the chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Association of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), Aip Sjarifuddin, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said the endorsed proposal was sent to Governor Sutiyoso on Oct. 24.

Aip said Organda expected the governor's decree would be issued in the second week of November, after the public had received information about the fare hike.

He believes the increased fares will not burden customers, saying that taxis, unlike buses, serve the middle and upper classes.

"With a better job of giving people the information, I believe the public will not object to the hike," he said.

He said the council agreed to the proposed hike in return for a commitment from taxi companies to operate new taxis and not use vehicles older than seven years.

"We'll only be allowed to hike the rental fee (on the taxis) three months after the decree is issued.

"So taxi drivers can earn extra profits before the implementation of the new rental fee," Aip said.

After months of evaluation, Sutiyoso issued Gubernatorial Decree No. 2503/2000 on Aug. 22, which allowed taxi companies to raise the flagfall from Rp 2,000 (around 25 US cents) to Rp 3,000, and increase the charges from Rp 900 per kilometer to Rp 1,300 per kilometer. The waiting fee also was increased from Rp 10,000 to Rp 13,000 per hour.

After the governor issued the decree, Organda issued a regulation on the fare hike on Aug. 24, stating that the new fares would come into effect on Sept. 1, 2000.

Some taxi companies, the Blue Bird group in particular, imposed the increased fares and raised the rental fee charged drivers.

Taxi drivers, however, staged a protest against the fare hike, saying customers would stop taking taxis because of the increased fares.

Opposition from the public and pressure from city councillors forced the city administration to suspend the implementation of the new fares on Sept. 6.

Of the 32 taxi companies operating in the capital, two have rejected the fare hike, saying their companies can survive without raising the fares. The two companies are Steady Safe and Citra Taxi.

Separately, the chairman of the City Land Transportation Agency, Buyung Atang, told the Post on Sunday the governor had yet to decide whether he will issue a decree approving the fare hike.

"But since the council has approved the proposal, I think the governor will issue the decree to set the date of the (fare) increase," Buyung said.

Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, Agus Pambagio, told the Post Sutiyoso should not issue the decree before hearing from the public about the new fares.

"Councillors cannot call themselves representatives of the people if they endorse the proposal without asking the public's opinion. The governor should therefore delay issuing the decree and find out the real reason behind the fare hike.

"I think the public should also have the heart to boycott taxi companies that apply the new rate," Agus said. (dja)