Indonesia’s Go-Jek will beat local transport network firms, group warns

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By Denise A. Valdez

A FORMER board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has raised concerns over the possible entry of Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek into the Philippine market.

Antonio E. Inton, Jr., founder of Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, said in the latest episode of the BusinessWorld Discussions podcast that his group would oppose should Go-Jek successfully joins the competition as it might harm the Filipino-owned transport network companies (TNC).

“Our group is looking at, and we will be opposing, the entry of this Indonesian TNC, Go-Jek. If you allow this, and then you just have 65,000 vehicles only, eh kakainin nito ’yong limang bago (this will easily beat the five new ones), which are all local,” he said.

LTFRB met with Go-Jek officials in May to discuss its intent to offer its ride-hailing services in the country. Board member Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada earlier said the Indonesian company had been warned of Philippine policies, which limit surge pricing.

She said the two parties had agreed to first study the repercussions of pursuing the plan.

“Go-Jek is big. We need to study well as we need to protect the local players,” Ms. Lizada said in May.

Grab Philippines (MyTaxi.PH) country head Brian P. Cu shared the worries of Mr. Inton.

In a previouse episode of BusinessWorld Discussions, he said he pitied the new players that would be harmed by Go-Jek’s entry.

“What will Go-Jek do? Go-Jek will come in, throw promos, increase incentives. Grab, kaya makipagsabayan niyan eh, kasi we have the capital (Grab can compete because we have the capital). But can the small players say the same?” he said.

Mr. Cu is one of the cofounders of Go-Jek but he said he is no longer tied with the company.

“I think the small players should find a way to work with one another, with us. We will see how we could improve the market. But with 65,000 cars? That’s too small to be split across so many players,” he added.

In April, the LTFRB accredited five new TNCs, all of which are local — Hype, Hirna, Owto, Go Lag and Micab.

The LTFRB has a transport network vehicle service (TNVS) cap of 65,000 for cars allowed to go on the road. All existing TNCs that follow a TNVS framework would have to get from the same pool of 65,000 cars.

The entry of Go-Jek means another TNC would be trying to get registered as TNVS to sign up with it. Mr. Inton said his group feels that the five new local TNCs would not be able to compete.

“At any rate, lahat ’yan depende sa LTFRB (all of that depends on the LTFRB),” he said.