Among the unsung victims of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic are lowly one-horse carriages – dokars – that travel the streets of Bali’s capital of Denpasar, usually hauling goods at the local markets and taking tourists on short tours.
NusaBali reports in keeping with other austerity measures – he Denpasar Government has halted the “Program Golkar Gratis” (Free Dokar Program) that used to operate each Saturday and Sunday.
With no customers or goods to carry, Ketut Purna, together with his horse and carriage, sits for hours on end at their “depot” in front of the Gedung Merdeka on Jalan Surapati in Denpasar. On Tuesday, 21 July 2020, Ketut said: “Because of COVID, all the dokar drivers have been sent home. The Denpasar government has temporarily stopped the ‘free dokar ride’ program every Saturday and Sunday.”
Due tothis lack of trade, the dokar drivers have lost their monthly wages that were only Rp. 2.5 million before deductions for administration costs.
Ketut Purna said he had received a type of severance pay from the Municipality of Denpasar in the amount of Rp. 1.4 million paid to him in July 2020. The dokar fleet of aging drivers and their aging horses are trying to get by seeking paying-passengers on Denpasar’s streets. “But there are very few passengers; there can be some days when we find no passengers at all,” lamented Ketut, who lives in simple accommodations, stabled with his horse, in Banjar Buana Saru, Desa Dangin Puri Kaja, in North Denpasar.
The aged Ketut Purna said he would continue to use his carriage and his horse to seek living expenses because, in the end, he has no other alternative. Commenting further, he said: “I am not frightened of Corona, I am frightened of not eating. My energy is only enough to work with my horse. I am no longer able to look for another form of employment.”
“I am not frightened of Corona, I am frightened of not eating. My energy is only enough to work with my horse. I am no longer able to look for another form of employment.”75-year-old Denpasar, Bali “Dokar” Driver
The head of the Tourism Department of the Denpasar, Dezire Mulyani, said the “free dokar program” had been stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was suspended when the budget that funded it was diverted to other programs to deal with the coronavirus.
Mulyani hopes the “free dokar program” can be reintroduced in 2021.