“Jockeys” left high and dry as Jakarta suspends carpool rule

The livelihoods of Jakarta’s professional car-pool passengers were in doubt Tuesday as the city suspended a rule requiring cars to carry three or more passengers during rush hour on main roads.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, decided to suspend the carpool rule for a week to see whether it could be scrapped for good.

The rule has failed to reduce traffic jams and been abused by drivers who pick up passengers on streets to cheat the scheme, he said.

“If they finally decide to scrap the 3-in-1, I can only resign my fate to God,” said Rohman Fauzi, one of such passengers who makes up to 65,000 (about 5 dollars) a day from sitting in strangers’ cars to allow them to circulate during the restricted times.

“I hope the government can give us jobs,” he said.

Rohman said his entire family, including his mother and wife, had been scraping a living for years as passengers for hire, known as jockeys, despite the practice being illegal.

He said his mother had been arrested by public order officers and was being detained at a social affairs office.

“I have to feed a wife and two children and my income isn’t enough,” he said.

The 3-in-1 scheme limits traffic from 7 am to 10 am and again from 4.30 pm to 7 pm on three of the city’s main thoroughfares.

Governor Basuki said the rule has given rise to child exploitation, with mothers carrying babies and small children so they can be picked up by drivers who refuse to pay two people.

“We suspect that the 3-in-1 rule has not improved traffic because people use jockeys and babies have become victims,” Basuki said.

The city administration is planning to adopt an electronic toll collection scheme, known as Electronic Road Pricing, on the capital’s busiest roads to replace the carpool system.

The system was tested in 2014 but it is not clear when it will be implemented, with Basuki saying that regulatory details were still being worked out.

Jakarta, a city of 10 million people known for severe congestion, does not have a mass rapid transit system and its bus lanes are often clogged with cars and motorcycles.

The city is building a metro system but it will not be operational until late 2018. Road restrictions caused by the construction work has further disrupted the traffic.

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