Mon, 03 Jan 2000

Pedicab drivers stage rally

JAKARTA (JP): Hundreds of becak (pedicab) drivers staged a rally in front of the city council on Saturday, demanding Governor Sutiyoso allow them to operate in the city.

Organized by Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) chairwoman Wardah Hafidz, the pedicab drivers submitted a proposal to on-duty security officials at City Hall. The proposal reportedly contained hundreds of signatures, including some from foreigners, who supported pedicab operation in the capital.

When asked about the reasons for staging a rally on the first day of 2000, Wardah said the pedicab drivers only wanted to remind Sutiyoso that the third millennium is a century of sovereignty and justice for ordinary people.

"Thus, this time the governor should pay more attention to people who live below the poverty line," Hafidz told Antara.

Sutiyoso allowed pedicab drivers into the city in 1998 due to the prolonged economic crisis. As numbers increased significantly, Sutiyoso revoked his statement in May last year and ordered city public order officials to conduct raids on pedicabs.

The ban on becak won the support of President Abdurrahman Wahid, who suggested pedicab drivers look for other jobs. The President, however, revised his policy by allowing the pedicabs to operate in residential areas.

The protesters, who failed to enter the governor's office, later dispersed peacefully after Wardah delivered their petition to a city security official. (imn)