Go-Jek: A Stab in their Backs?

Gojek is Indonesia’s very own app and demand-based ojek service that have gained widespread appreciation. I find this progress of technology to be a savior in the midst of head-pounding traffic in Jakarta. But let’s go back to the basics. An ojek driver is a motorcyclist who provides his services to take you anywhere in the city. In other words, they are your informal and independent motorcycle taxis. But at times, regular or ojeks are a lot to handle, especially without excellent bargain skills. Plus, you would have to do a prior assumption of a price estimate of the distance between your pickup point and your destination.

It was until Nadiem Makarim decided to act, sparing us of helplessness and worry. He set up a company that implements a fuss-free payment system by establishing a specific rate per kilometer, so they could pinpoint for us, just exactly how much we need to pay. What you get is a fixed price, no bargains. From transport, food, groceries and even beauty treatments, the company sticks true to its headline: “An ojek for every need”. For a working fresh graduate like me, I praise the existence of Gojek for not only reflecting Indonesia’s rising digital economy but for making my life so much easier. I could go around a lot faster and save a little bit more money for other necessities like food, groceries…and books.

However, things have not been all that pretty for these drivers. For quite some time after its launch, Gojek drivers met massive resistance from traditional ojeks. Then, it came down to Gojek’s shady algorithm that are possibly cheating their drivers. And now, it’s also very possible that we are slowly crawling up behind them to stab them in the back.

In social media, customers have complained of how long it took some drivers to, buy and deliver their food to their office buildings. Some time after that, we saw a sheepish yet thoughtful letter from one driver explaining what goes on behind the scenes. For example, they have to cover parking costs, then take service lifts which obviously takes a while. Not only that, the Gojek order system is once again starting to reek of injustice. For instance, should a driver take too long in completing his order, he is ripped off of a bonus. Second, some drivers feel that the system is allegedly cancelling their orders on purpose which in turn affect their performance rates to result in temporary suspension.

But what’s even more concerning, is our increasingly negative societal perception towards these drivers. They are often viewed as nuisances; disallowed from stopping in front of embassies and flashy malls, or much less going inside them! I’ve witnessed security guards roughly telling them to take their green jackets off which moves me to think, is that really necessary? I’m fully aware that you are all doing your jobs, heck, we all are. But so are they.

Okay, I’m not saying that I haven’t been impatient once in a while and cancelled my orders. But let’s try and not do that anymore alright? If they appear to be a few minutes from your pickup point, try not to cancel. And bloody hell, stop ordering 20 cups of bubble tea and then not expect the possibility that they might spill on the way to your fancy high-rise office. Have we forgotten how just how grueling the streets of Jakarta are? Just for once, we should compromise and appreciate their efforts to go through mind-bending gridlocks to reach us. This is not a pity post, but I’m saying that they deserve better, because we all have lives to support and mouths to feed, regardless of profession.