The minister told a press conference at the Ministry of Transportation that ojek can temporarily continue to operate to meet the needs of the public for an efficient transport system, pending a revision in Law No.22/2009 on Traffic and Transportation.
"As a temporary solution, please go on (running your service). We can revise the law which has been in effect since 2009," the minister said. The law did not include two-wheeler vehicles as a public mode of transportation.
However, the fact that there is a wide gap between the need and availability of proper and adequate public transportation. "If ojek can be a solution and can provide good service to the public, we suggest that it should continue running for the time being," the minister said.
Ojek service has been in existence for a long time in the country. Ojek drivers used to offer their services by being available at a stand.
However, in the recent past, responding to the increasing problem of gridlocked traffic, particularly in big cities, organized ojek drivers had started offering their service via an online internet system.
One of the most popular and fast growing online motorcycle taxi service is "Go-Jek," a service that now has 200 thousand drivers and eight million customers.
As Jakarta traffic became known for its notorious gridlocks, these drivers have been providing an efficient and speedy service to passengers. However, since the service ran counter to the law, Minister Jonan issued a letter to ban these operations.
The "ojek," or motorcycle taxi, cannot be used as a mode of public transport as it endangers the safety of passengers, according to Minister Jonan.
"If motorcycles are used as a mode of private transport, it is okay. But these could not be officially used as a means of public transportation," Jonan stated at the Ministry of Transportation on Friday.
He pointed out that motorcycle taxis have not been included as a means of public transportation based on Law Number 22 of 2009 on Traffic and Transportation and Government Regulation Number 74 of 2014 on Transportation.
"In terms of public transportation safety, two-wheeler vehicles are not included as a mode of public transport. It is not appropriate from the safety aspect," the minister emphasized.
However, the ground reality exposes the wide gap between the need for transportation facilities and the ability to provide adequate and proper means of public transportation.
The ojek service bridged this gap, offering an alternative mode of transport. In recent days, the "Gojek" service, or the online-based motorcycle taxi service, and other similar internet-based services have been capitalizing on the demand-supply gap.
The Ministry of Transportation had issued a notification No. UM.302/1/21/Phb/2015 on the operation of ojek, saying it was not in line with Law Number 74 of 2009 on Traffic and Transportation and Government Regulation Number 74 of 2014 on Transportation.
The letter dated November 19, 2015 had been signed by the Transportation Minister, and its copies were also sent to the Traffic Police Corps of the National Police, governors, and the regional police across the country.
Land Transportation Director General Djoko Sasono remarked that following the issuance of the letter, the online-based motorcycle ojek taxis were no longer allowed to operate.
"The motorcycle ojek taxis are banned from operating as they are not in line with regulations," he added.
However, the ministers move sparked reactions from various circles defending the motorcycle taxi service.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated, the online-based "ojek" or motorcycle taxi service is now needed by the people, and a transitional regulation is required to let them run till the country puts in place a mass transportation system.
"The so-called ojek or Go-Jek came into existence because the people needed this service. We need to underline this," President Jokowi noted on Friday.
The president remarked that ojek operations should not be stopped as this will disadvantage the public at large.
"The implementation of a regulation should not harm the interests of the people. No person should be disadvantaged. " the president questioned.
He stated that the online ojek service can remain operational as long as it is required by the people, and a transitional regulation should be put in place to ensure legal sanction.
"I do not think there is a problem. We can come up with a transitional regulation covering its operations until we improve our mass transportation system. The people will naturally make their own choices," Jokowi pointed out.
In the meantime, the Jakarta regional government also asked the Ministry of Transportation not to ban the online-based ojek service. "If we ban them, it will be impossible for us to arrest them (online ojek drivers)," Jakarta Deputy Governor Djarot Syaiful Hidayat said.
He admitted that the existence of online ojek services such as the Go-Jek, Lady Jek, Grap Bike or other internet application based ojek services is against Law No. 22/ 2009. However, people in Jakarta and other big cities needed ojek, the app-based service.
Djarot said the service facilitates Jakarta residents who otherwise face serious traffic jams every day. Therefore, he hoped that the central government would revise Law No.22/2009 and Government Regulation No. 74/2014 on Transportation.
According to Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), the more important thing was for ojek drivers to abide by the traffic regulations and pay attention to the convenience of passengers.
In response to demand from the public, Minister Jonan scrapped the ban for the time being, asking ojek operators to continue their service for the time being.
Chairman of the Indonesian Consumers Institute Foundation (YLKI), Tulus Abadi, said the lifting of the ban on ojek is a tragedy, seen from the perspective of public policy and regulation.
"The lifting of the ban is equivalent to a tragedy because this action had a political dimension, namely pressure from the President. The President saw the case from the aspect of public interest instead of following regulations," Tulus Abadi said in an electronic message on Friday.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said banning the ojek services fell within the authority of the transportation minister. "It was within the authority of the minister, particularly at the level of the land transportation directorate general," noted Pramono Anung.
But the President responded to the ban because the number of people using the service have grown big. "The number of users (motorcycle taxi drivers) now reaches more than 200 thousand," he said.
EDITED BY INE