Informal Transportation – Ojeg

May 12th, 2008, in Business & Economy, by

Fatur Fatkhuri on whether ojeg driving provides an adequate livelihood.

Ojeg Drivers in Pisangan, Ciputat, Tangerang

Informal transportation vehicles are popular not only in the third world, but also in the developed countries. In most developing countries, this transportation, particularly motorcycles, are part of the essential mode of transportation.

Ojek drivers at the ready.

To what extent does ojeg, or ojek, driving support the daily needs of ojeg drivers? This article will seek the answers based on interviews with and observations of some ojeg drivers in Ciputat, Tangerang in 2006.

Ease of Entry

It is a fact that Ojeg is a useful transportation which to a certain degree is effective in maintaining human livelihoods. For most people in Indonesia, Ojeg profession can be an alternative job as they encounter not enough wages or income with their other jobs. In addition, working in ojeg transportation is easy to enter, since this job is very flexible and it does not require any fixed or official regulation, and we only need to use a motorcycle either by renting or buying one.

Motorcycle Ownership

In terms of motorcycle ownership, based on my observation in Ciputat, Tangerang, there are three types.

  • People own motorcycles by buying through credit or down payment, because they do not have adequate money to buy in cash.
  • Some ojeg drivers buy in cash. Therefore, it will be easy for them to manage their income since they do not have any obligation to pay money monthly.
  • A few Ojeg Drivers rent motorcycles from other people.

Why informal transportation is very important in our life

Informal transportation plays an important role in supporting economic life for society. One of its features is giving mutual benefit either for those who need this transportation in order to link their business as well as for the owner of the transport themselves. The benefits that customers receive are mostly in the form of services. For example, traders or employees who do not have private transport will need this transport to get to their work office, market and the like. In line with this, for the owner of this transportation, they will also receive money from customers’ payment. Furthermore, the importance of informal transportation is as a result of the lack of common or traditional forms of public transport network and infrastructure such as mass public transportation.

Historically, in the period of colonization in Indonesia, informal transportation played a significant role compared to formal transportation such as railways. In fact, at that particular time, informal transportation such as Ox-cart (Gerobak) and river traffic (Perahu) had many more customers than railways and this informal transportation could help economic activities throughout Indonesia.

Interviews with Ojeg Drivers in Pisangan

By virtue of the information I got, less than one third of Ojeg drivers said that they could make a living from ojeg driving. Only 30% of total ojeg drivers in Pisangan said that the ojeg profession is adequate to support their livelihoods.

Some drivers said that the monthly repayments on their loan to purchase the motorcycle took up too much of their money, and some said that income was usually exceeded by their outlay, while some said their income fluctuated too wildly and that ojeg driving was sufficient employment only at certain times.

My study shows that the ojeg profession does not obviously support the daily needs of ojeg drivers in Ciputat. It has been proven that most of the groups have part time job in order to support their family income. They think that by looking for other jobs it will help them to support their daily needs. It can be found from the facts that some of the ojeg drivers’ wives help them by opening small shops (Warung nasi) or other jobs. Therefore the ojeg drivers often need their wives to work to support their livelihoods.

16 Comments on “Informal Transportation – Ojeg”

  1. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Hi Fatkhuri,

    Nice piece of research. Good to get up on the web and well-read blogs like this one.

    On one hand, the ojek drivers and their ilk are the unsung heroes of Indonesia. Well, Soekarno gave them their due in Marhaenism.

    At the same time, let’s be honest. Those guys piss away alot of their money on arak, cigarettes, even cheap whores, little luxuries to get through life. There’s a reason the 108 year old BRI gives over 95 % of its loans to women.

  2. Fatur says:

    Hi Achmad,

    It’s true that some of ojek drives have a bad habit like you said.But, cannot generlise that all of them are bad since based on my observation, there are some of them who strenuously struggle for theri survival and tend to avoid those features.

  3. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    That’s your observation, dude. Personally, my money’s Bank Rakyat Indonesia, which has more money to lose than just internet fees.

  4. Rob says:


    If that is the case then perhaps “we” should avoid taking the ojek on principle? That principle being that

    At the same time, let’s be honest. Those guys piss away alot of their money on arak, cigarettes, even cheap whores, little luxuries to get through life.

    so, if the ojex are only going to do the things that you suggest with their meagre incomes then by avoiding the use of the ojek service we would in fact be saving them (ojex) from themselves.

    This seems to be an interesting take on the issue for you Achmad!

  5. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Hi Rob,


    Their wives sensibly take away most of their money and leave them with an allowance. If you don’t believe me, ask the next taxi driver.

    Their money is “net” ie after tax.

    But it’s an honest transaction — they offer a service — you offer a payment. What they do with it is their business, they’re adults.

    Achmad is all about freedom, choice, and free will.

    Merdeka !

  6. Rob says:


    Just taking the piss! 😀

    Yep, an honest transaction all around; the ojek provides a service and I pay for that service. As does the some one else who barters and then provides a service to the ojek for the “ride” home!

    Ahhh….such are the intricacies of life, always a balancing act to make ends meet!

  7. David says:

    Their wives sensibly take away most of their money and leave them with an allowance. If you don’t believe me, ask the next taxi driver.

    I read an interview with an ex-prostitute, she was asked how women could stop their husbands going to prostitutes, and yep you guessed it, her advice was don’t let them out of the house with anything more than cigarette money in their pockets.

  8. Achmad Sudarsono says:


    I think the piss-taking needs a bit of work. Had a column on piss-taking tips earlier on. But, always good to, um, “cross swords,” you old swordsman, you !

  9. Achmad Sudarsono says:


    Patoeng, “I read an interview” with a prostitute. Yeah. Sure you did. : p Just like those guys who hang out at Dolly “for the atmosphere.”

  10. David says:

    Yep Achmad, ok you got me, if you want the truth I was in TP trying out some of the methods outlined in How to pick up babes in malls Part 1. – No good, all I got was some stinging red marks on my face, so I gave up…. (that’s an ellipsis). So, I am really, really hoping that Part II will be coming out very soon. I seriously think that Achmad’s fame can be taken far beyond the dangdut bars, if you’ll only let me help him you along…(another ellipsis)

  11. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    🙂 : -)

    We’re here for you, brother !

  12. Rob says:

    Or that other classic…

    “I recently heard from a friend of a friend that …”

  13. David says:

    We’re here for you, brother !

    Great, let’s get the email address confusion sorted out, you’ve got so many of them I don’t know which one works now.

  14. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Brother Patoeng,

    E-mail is:

    x o

  15. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Just sent you a note.

  16. timdog says:

    Oooooo! Look at all those elipses!!!!

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