Tuesday morning in Indonesia a large protest led by taxi drivers clogged many main highways in hopes of convincing the government that Uber and other ride-hailing apps are illegal. Taxi drivers depend on transporting people who are willing to pay for a ride and since the growth of apps like Uber, taxi prices have not been competitive enough to sustain taxi driver’s. The protesters felt so passionately about their cause that they were assaulting fellow taxi drivers who were not engaging in the protest.
Last year, a governor called police to arrest Uber drivers because he claimed they were operating illegally. Uber denied this claim while making reference to the law on independent taxi drivers. It seems that the protest has been somewhat fruitless.
In America competition drives the market, and if Uber is offering a service at a lower price while staying within the legal bounds of business then they will be more successful. For some reason this doesn’t translate in Indonesia. Is it because Indonesians don’t have as strong of a capitalist attitude as Americans? Is it because Indonesian taxi drivers are suffering a lower quality of life when compared to American taxi drivers? Is it because laws are less defined in Indonesia than America?
Whatever the reason, I don’t see anything productive coming from this protest. Indonesia is keen on growing their new digital economy. New apps are not going to be made illegal simply because they are providing unprecedented competition. I feel for the struggling taxi drivers, but perhaps they should look into becoming Uber drivers.