Sat, 22 Jan 2000

Pedicab drivers say job offers not for them

JAKARTA (JP): Pedicab drivers banned from operating in the capital rejected on Friday the city administration's offer to take up new jobs, arguing they lacked the skills to do anything else.

About 60 people representing 1,000 pedicab drivers said the new occupations would require skills and it was not assured they would earn enough to meet their daily needs.

The city administration banned pedicabs, known locally as becak, from operating here on the grounds that the occupation was inhumane and degrading to human dignity. The ban took effect in 1988.

When the economic crisis hit the country in 1997, Governor Sutiyoso surprised many by announcing that pedicabs could operate again in certain areas to allow many poor and unskilled people to earn money to support their families.

He later revoked the decision because it contravened Regulation no. 11/88, which banned the operation of pedicabs in Jakarta, but not before there was a flood of drivers and their vehicles into the city.

During Friday's meeting between the driver representatives, the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) and the Central Jakarta mayoralty, most of the men said they earned a sufficient amount from operating pedicabs.

"We turned down the offer for other jobs because, despite our humble appearance and few skills, we can still support our families," one of the drivers said.

The Central Jakarta mayoralty said it earmarked 24 occupations, including as cleaners and security personnel, for pedicab drivers and other unskilled jobless people provided that they first underwent training. The mayoralty has promised to cover the training costs.

The mayoralty also planned to set up more than 300 kiosks for former pedicab drivers who have taken up new jobs.

The range of occupations offered by the mayoralty could employ as many as 2,000 people.

"Providing them with alternative jobs is our main endeavor," mayoralty secretary Rustam Effendi Sidabutar said at the meeting. (06)