The Unfair Pursuit of Fares

Online Driver Attacked by Bali Airport Drives Seeking to Enforce an Illegal Monopoly

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, open conflict broke out at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport between tens of conventional taxi operators and online taxi operators over the right to carry passengers to and from Bali’s sole airport.

NusaBali reports that “tens” of members of the conventional taxi cooperatives, who claim to have a monopoly on taxi services from the Bali Airport, attacked an online taxi picking up a passenger at the airport.

The attack – recorded on hand phones and circulated widely on Social Media, began when an online taxi driver, Edi Saputra (40), entered into a debate with members of the local taxi cooperative who insist they are entitled to hold a transport monopoly on passengers driving from the airport. Edi, is a driver from the online “Grab service.”

Edi went to the location after several Grab drivers were earlier ejected from the airport to speak with a group of more than 20 conventional taxi drivers. In discussing the controversial issue of airport access, one of the conventional taxi drivers physically attacked Saputra.

Dragging Saputra to the airport security office, the Grab spokesman suffered a number of minor injuries. A police complaint has been filed against the man who struck Saputra.

Access for online taxis to the airport will remain contentious and potentially dangerous for a number of factors, despite a clearly established right to access for online drivers and the consumers' right to free markets operating without artifical restraints.

Many of the local drivers working from the airport believe they has the predominant claim on carrying passengers from the Airport. Many of the drivers hail from surrounding villages were promised by PT Angkasa Pura, who manage the Airport, an exclusive right to operate Ngurah Rai’s taxi services as compensation for releasing village lands for the airport expanding operations.

Meanwhile, Angkasa Pura may have acted outside its legal capacity in granting exclusive access to local transportation cooperatives. The 1999 Anti-Monopoly Law of Indonesia outlaws any action that bans or hinders free trade and market access that could result in higher prices to the public.

In other words, online taxi services and metered taxis currently being harrasses when taking passengers from the airport have an equal and undeniable right to operate their taxis from the airport.

Apparently aware of their legal conundrum, Angkasa Pura now insists that they have never attempted to bar online taxi operations from the airport. Online taxis can currently drop passengers at the departure halls. According to the law, they are also entitled to pick up arriving passenger which they can do at costs that are substantially lower than those sought by conventional taxi cooperatives.

Aware of the “clash” of traditional village society and the new digital world, police, airport officials and tourism officials remain quietly in the background in efforts to side step a potentially explosive situation

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