Polio did not stop Triyono from cashing in on Indonesia’s booming ride-hailing business last year, when he launched a motorcycle taxi service run exclusively by disabled drivers.
With a crew of 20 drivers and modified three-wheeled motorbikes, Triyono, 35, is filling a gap in a public transport service that s not particularly disabled-friendly in the world’s fourth-most populous country.
“It started as a social activity with the hope of assisting disabled people. Then we gave them motorbikes to support their mobility and make sure their business runs smoothly,” he said, adding that all drivers are certified with a handicapped drivers licence.
While he service is aimed at providing rides for other disabled people, anyone can use the service.
He planning to expand and launch a mobile phone app in November, joining the stiff competition between the popular app-based transport services provided by home-grown company Gojek and Singapore-based Grab.
Triyono said he hoped to help more disabled people find employment in his hometown of Yogyakarta, a tourist destination and base for visiting nearby Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
According to government data, about 11 percent of Indonesia’s population of 250 million are living with disabilities and many of them are poor.
For former fruit seller Aris Wahyudi driving a “difajek” – a combination of the Indonesian words for “disabled” and “motorcycle taxi” – often meant more than doubling his income, which used to be less than $3 a day.
“Now I can bring in a minimum of 50,000 rupiah ($3.80) home every day, and on average around 100,000 rupiah ($7.60) a day. So there’s an increment,” said Wahyudi, who has a disabled arm and leg.
For many customers, the fact the service employs people with disabilities is a key selling point.
“I choose disabled motorbike taxi service because it makes me feel comfortable. The driver is disabled, and I am disabled too. We can trust each other,” said Yuli Siswanto, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident several years ago.