The 41-year-old Jakartan, a driver with ride-hailing app ojek-taxi, is still hitting the road to earn money, just like he did before the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced most people to stay indoors.
On Friday, April 10, Jakarta went into partial lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread under the government’s PSBB, Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar (Large-Scale Social Distancing), policy.
The usually crowded and congested main roads across the city have turned quiet. Office buildings are mainly vacant as the government has urged companies to issue working from home guidance.
Shopping malls are mostly closed, or opening for a limited time, while implementing health protocols. Restaurants are open, but only offering take-away service.
Street across neighborhoods are as silent as the main roads, as gatherings of more than five persons have been prohibited. All places of worship have also closed, with people encouraged to pray at home.
Related news: Provincial govt bans celebration activities during PSBB in Jakarta
Related news: Jakarta police announces 10 transportation modes prioritized
The measures will remain in place for at least two weeks through April 23. And, an extension cannot be ruled out as the pandemic still needs to be contained.
In the beginning of March, Indonesia had confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19 — a mother and daughter who lived in Depok, a city neighboring the capital. Through contact tracing, the authorities found, the two had contracted the infection from a foreigner at a cafe in Jakarta.
As of 12 p.m. on April 11, there have been 3,842 confirmed cases, 286 recoveries, and 327 deaths across all 34 provinces in Indonesia, according to data from the Indonesian Task Force for COVID-19.
Jakarta is the current epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia, accounting for nearly half the total cases recorded nationally. As many as 1,903 Jakartans have contracted the infection. While 142 patients have recovered so far, there have been 168 fatalities.
"I am insisting on going outside and finding customer orders since I need some money to continue living," Sam stated.
The main service of motorbike ride-hailing app ojek-taxi has been banned under the PSBB. Drivers of mobile app-based companies have been allowed to only undertake food and goods delivery.
Sam, who has been in this job for just two years, said he is not taking home as much money as he did under normal circumstances.
"Today until 9.00 p.m., I have completed eight customer orders, but earned some Rp60.000 (around US$4). While yesterday, before the lockdown, with the same number of orders, I made some Rp150.000 (around US$9.5)," he added.
"Before the government announced the social distancing instruction in the mid of March, I earned at least Rp200.000 (about US$13) working from around 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.,” he continued.
To ensure the needs of his wife and two children are met, there is nothing else Sam said he could do other than maximize his service, based on what the application company provides.
On days he focuses on food delivery, he starts work according to restaurants' operational time. On days he undertakes goods deliveries, he starts early morning as people need courier packages as soon as the day begins.
"The point is... I stay at a location which has the possibility for many customer orders. Also, I just stay put, so I can drive more fuel efficiently," Sam explained.
The company he has partnered with — a leading ride-hailing company from Singapore —is also contributing to help driver partners, Sam said. It is giving financial assistance to those testing positive for COVID-19.
"We are being facilitated with the holding of vehicle installments or bank loans. And, they have given us masks for free, though they were limited," Sam added.
Like Sam, many other drivers are opting for self-advertising on Twitter, offering their services to deliver foods, goods, or buy groceries, without using the ride-hailing application, offline and manually.
The hashtag #ButuhDriver, which means #NeedDriver, has emerged since April 9. One of the drivers using this feature is @tamikecil. She recently wrote a tweet, offering her services:
Since ojek-taxi orders have decreased and I need to meet my needs, I am open for delivery orders for goods and groceries, as well as food in Ciputat, Pamulang, BSD, and Bintaro areas.
If you are interested, please send me a direct message.
Tariff is adjustable. Insya Allah (if God wills) I can be trusted.
Karena ojol lagi sepi order dan demi kebutuhan, saya buka jasa area Ciputat, Pamulang, BSD, Bintaro
-anter barang dan belanjaan pasar.
Bagi yg berminat bisa DM.
Tarif bisa disesuaikan. Insha Allah amanah#ButuhDriver pic.twitter.com/fayTMi5VWt
— tamikecil (@tamikecil) April 9, 2020
The trend is currently developing not only among online drivers in Jakarta, but in some neighboring areas of Tangerang, Bekasi, Bogor, and Depok.
The coronavirus lockdown has been difficult for everyone, and in this case, particularly for ojek-taxi drivers, as they are losing orders.
Sam and @tamikecil are only two examples of how people can continue with their lives. For people who have to work from home and cannot venture outside to buy food and goods, they are indeed heroes.
Related News: Coronavirus: Frontline medics offer messages of hope, advise caution
Related News: Ensuring health and safety of supermarket workers
Related News: Reporting on COVID-19: Journalists torn between caution, duty