Indonesia's traffic nightmare a dream for 'ojeks'

Jakarta's crippling traffic jams cost the Indonesian capital billions of dollars a year, but there's one group of battling businessmen who thrive in the smog-filled streets: ojek drivers.

The appalling traffic problem is an opportunity for thousands of motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers across the teeming city of around 10 million people, so much so it is attracting the attention of entrepreneurs such as Nadiem Makarim.

Makarim, 27, graduated from Harvard with a masters in business administration and, upon returning to his homeland, decided there was money to be made out of Jakarta's traffic nightmare.

He founded a company called GO-JEK as the first professionally run ojek service in the city, offering a higher standard - any standard - of service than the rag-tag army of freelance ojek drivers who currently ply the streets.

"The traffic issue isn't solvable in the next five to 10 years, so Jakartans will need a convenient and affordable mode of quick transport and delivery," Makarim told AFP.

"My business exists because of a lack of infrastructure."

Indonesia's decrepit roads, ports, railways and bridges are often cited as a major obstacle to growth and investment, but for Makarim it's an opportunity.

His target market is not only those commuters who normally use ojeks to zip between the lines of barely moving cars and trucks, but people who generally avoid high-risk motorcycle travel.

GO-JEK's website promises improved safety thanks to careful driver recruitment, a call centre to help "solve any problems in the field" and a transparent, distance-based fare system for people who are "tired of haggling and getting ripped off on the polluted streets of Jakarta".

The site (www.go-jek.com) offers GO-JEK Tweets and reviews, profiles a "driver of the month" and spells out the company's social mission to "improve the livelihood of hard-working ojek drivers in Jakarta".

"As the value of Jakartans' time increases along with their income, we firmly believe that more and more people will need a mode of transport that can actually get them to meetings on time, or even to get them home to spend time with their children," Makarim said.

"Our role is to make the existing market more efficient and bigger, not to compete with existing ojek drivers on the street."

Five months after establishing his company, Makarim has about 200 drivers and plans to expand into delivery services through alliances with e-commerce and retail partners.

He also plans to collaborate with local transport officials to "help develop feeder systems to bus ways and rail".

It is not only GO-JEK that is profiting from Jakarta's chronic traffic jams. Independent ojek driver Hermanto, 21, said the congestion was his bread and butter.

"I love it when the traffic gets more congested in the city. The worse the traffic, the more we get hired," he said.

Ojek drivers can earn about 150,000 rupiah (more than $14) a day, a comfortable living in a country where millions of people survive on less than $2 a day.

"I worked in a cellphone shop before I did this. I like being an ojek driver more as I receive cash on a daily basis," said driver Panca Herda, 21.

The Indonesian capital ranked last of all in a global survey of commuter satisfaction in 23 cities published in June by business research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Their Journey of Experience Index poll of almost 15,000 people around the world found travellers in Jakarta were the most miserable of all, gloomier even than those in Rio de Janeiro and Cairo - also notorious for dire gridlock.

Respondents in Copenhagen, Seattle and Sydney were most satisfied with their commuting experience, based on criteria such as speed, cost and overall comfort.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

    £100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

    Year 4 Teacher

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

    SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?