Indonesia gives taxi apps ultimatum after protest

Taxi drivers stand beside a taxi, with a sign that reads "Illegal transportation Grab, Uber", during a protest rally against transportation apps in Jakarta on March 22, 2016.
Taxi drivers stand beside a taxi, with a sign that reads "Illegal transportation Grab, Uber", during a protest rally against transportation apps in Jakarta on March 22, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia Thursday (March 24) ordered ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab to partner with local transport businesses and register their cars by the end of May, after taxi drivers staged a violent protest.

There were scenes of chaos at a demonstration in the capital Jakarta on Tuesday, with thousands of traditional taxi drivers blocking major roads, fighting with rivals, and demanding the government ban taxi-hailing apps.

The transport ministry said cars working for the apps must register and team up with a local partner by May 31 or face a ban.

Controversial US company Uber and Southeast Asian outfit Grab are hugely popular in traffic-clogged Jakarta, with many relying on their services.

"It's in line with a government regulation from 2009 that all public transportation needs to be a legal entity, register and work together with legal taxi businesses," said ministry spokesman J. A. Barata.

Grab's Indonesian unit said it was already working with a local Indonesian partner.

"Grab is now trying to ensure that our partner can and will follow every requirement from the government," said Ridzki Kramadibrata, managing director of Grab Indonesia.

There was no immediate comment from Uber.

Anger has been growing among taxi drivers worldwide at the challenge presented by Uber, one of the world's most valuable start-ups, and a flurry of other app-based services that typically offer cheaper fares than traditional transport operators.