Business booming for Indonesia's 'sharia motorbike taxis'

Business booming for Indonesia's 'sharia motorbike taxis'

Business booming for Indonesia's 'sharia motorbike taxis'

Updated 22 January 2018, 7:30 AEDT

Women in Indonesia are escaping gridlock by jumping aboard "sharia ojeks" — a new female-only transport service that's deemed acceptable under Islamic sharia law.

Women in Indonesia are escaping gridlock by jumping aboard a new transport service that is deemed acceptable under Islamic sharia law.

"Sharia ojeks" are motorbike taxis for women only.

"It's for women who are more comfortable in riding because the rider is female," says ojek driver Adinda Gita Maulani, as she waits to collect a young passenger outside a Jakarta school.

"Proximity between women is allowed in our belief."

Adinda is one of 600 women riders employed by a company called Ojesy, which is a contraction of the words "syariah" (sharia) and "ojek" (motorcycle taxi).

The business now operates in 20 cities in Indonesia. Business is booming as religion in Indonesia takes on a bigger role in everyday life.

One of the company's regular passengers is 30-year-old Sofiyah.

"I feel comfortable because the drivers are women," she said.

"It's more comfortable and safer."

Under sharia law, women and men who are not related are prohibited from touching each other.

That complicates public transport for Indonesia's growing number of women who are trying to adhere to religious law.

In Indonesia's Aceh province, where sharia law is strictly enforced, many women ride side-saddle to avoid unnecessary contact with the driver.

But that is a dangerous way to get around in Jakarta's apocalyptic traffic. It is hard enough riding pillion.

"In the case of sudden braking sometimes you cannot avoid touching the driver," Sofiyah said.

"It's OK with a female driver, but with other male drivers it's difficult to keep the distance. We might fall off!"

Ojesy was started by university student Evilita Adriani, who said she started the business out of concern for sexual harassment aboard public transport.

"I was the first driver with the company," she said.

Like Indonesia's ubiquitous green-jacketed GoJek motorbike taxi service, Ojesy is app-based — but unlike GoJek, you won't see Ojesy drivers loitering on the street while they wait for a fare.

"We do not allow our drivers to wait on the side of the road," Ms Adriani said.

"We don't want to disturb women's role as a wife or daughter. By doing so they can still carry their duty and earn additional income with Ojesy."

Ojesy riders are expected to wear a jilbab under their helmets.