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Open Season in Bali on Blue Colored Birds

Blue Bird Bali Taxi Controversy Escalates.

(2/20/2010) Demonstrations and demands by competing drivers from Bali taxi operators to withdraw the licenses and close down Bali Taxi (Blue Bird) has evoked a response from the 1,500 Blue Bird drivers who would be affected by such a move.

During a Kompas.com visit to the Blue Bird offices in Bali, Gede Suarta, a representative of the company said any closure of the company would create widespread. "Please consider, this will affect the fate of many," implored the family man who has worked for Blue Bird for more than 10 years.

The 48-year old man continued, "we're very worried - where will we find new work?" Suarta said he prayed that the provincial government of Bali would fight for the future of his company's drivers.

Another driver, Iin Hartini, a woman who has worked at Blue Bird since it started operating in Bali in 1994, shared these sentiments: "If we're closed we'll be unable to work. How will I take care of my family if I am unemployed?" Iin is the mother of four and the grandmother of five.

The 52-year old woman added, "Hopefully this won't happen and we'll be allowed to work as we have in the past."

PT Praja Bali Transportasi or Bali Taxi operates an armada of 750 vehicles that employs 1,500 drivers.

Opposition from the Competition

Meanwhile, Bisnis Bali reports that hundreds of taxi drivers from competing taxi companies staged protests at the Bali Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) on Monday, February 15, 2010, demanding that Blue Bird Taxi be closed down for violating the terms of its licenses.

The Chairman of the Circle of Tourism Service Providers (Paguyuban Jasa Wisata Bali), Gusti Made Oka Sukranita, said: "We demand that the provincial House of Representatives (DPRD) fight for our aspiration that the provincial government of Bali revoke the operational license of PT Praaja Bali Taxi, which for 16 years has used the attributes of Blue Bird in their operations."

Sukranita contends that the 750 vehicles operated by Bali Taxi together with plans to operate an additional 250 vehicles will exceed the ideal size of Bali's taxi fleet, which he estimates to presently total 2,800 units.

Speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, Sukranita said: "We hope the government will do the right thing in issuing new licenses in Bali. The number of taxis operating in Bali we consider already to be too many."

Estimates of the breakdown of all taxis now operating in Bali are Ngurah Rai (1,000 vehicles), Komotra (400 vehicles), Wahana (200 vehicles), Kowindu (200 vehicles), Bali Taxi (200) and Praja Bali (750).

The demonstrators at the DPRD engaged in a dialog with local legislators. Unhappy with the response from the law makers, they continued their protest by traveling to the Transportation Office for Bali where they commenced a program of public orations demanding the closure of Bali Praja Transportasi.

The head of the Transportation, Information and Communication Office for Bali, Made Santha, told the protesters that his office will close Blue Bird operations in Bali. This will be done, he said, because the armada of taxi known as Bali Taxi does not hold the correct operational licenses and is in violation of a 2003 decree from the Minister of Transportation.

His office had only issued an operating license to PT Praja Bali Transportasi who have been found to be operating with the identity of Blue Bird on their entire fleet, including the uniforms of their drivers.

Blue Bird Responds

The Vice-President of Blue Bird, Noni Purnomo, denies that any law has been broken. According to Purnomo, Blue Bird and Praja Bali Transportasi operate under a valid cooperation agreement that permits the use of the Blue Bird brand on every vehicle and the uniforms of the drivers.