ACTNews, JAKARTA - Soleh smiled happily. He just happened to pass by and see the Free Meal Operation banner in front of Warteg Bahari in Tanjung Duren, West Jakarta on Monday (3/23). Soleh received free meals from Warteg Tanjung Duren in collaboration with Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT).
"Insha Allah, I’ll be back again tomorrow. The distribution starts at 2 p.m. doesn’t it? Can I bring a friend? " he said jokingly to ACTNews.
Soleh is one of the many online bike taxi drivers who received free meals from the Free Food Operation. He admitted that his income has considerably decreased lately due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia. Previously, he could serve up to 10 passengers a day. Now, sometimes he does not even get any passenger.
"Today I already took 8 passengers, Alhamdulillah. It’s better than nothing. I used to serve more than 10 passengers but now it’s less because of the COVID-19. With this Free Food Operation, I can save the money that I usually spend for lunch. These days I don’t earn much. My income has been significantly decreased. The streets are empty. I don’t receive many orders,"said Soleh.
Because Coronavirus is transmitted from human to human through droplets of saliva, the government has been urging people to maintain physical distance and even carry out activities such as studying and working from home.
Warteg Putra Bahari in Tanjung Duren (ACTNews / Reza Mardhani)
Maintaining physical distance is considered effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19. However, the limitation of activities outside has an economic impact on informal workers who have to work outside. One of them was Umar, an online motorcycle taxi driver whose income has also been considerably decreased.
"I received orders once every two hours now. Usually, my phone beeps quite frequently. Now it only beeps once every one or two hours. My income has been considerably decreased. Now I only get 5 or 6 passengers at most. Normally I can get up to 20 people. It’s now much fewer," said Umar.
Another online driver said that they (online taxis) were not unwilling to obey physical distancing policy, but that they were forced to go out because they have to work. He was also grateful for the Free Food Operation program.
"If we don’t go out and work every day, we won't eat. Whether we like it or not, we have no choice but to go out. Our priority is to fulfill the needs of our family. If we follow the instruction to stay home, no one will fulfill our needs for us," he said.
The Free Meal Operation in collaboration with 1,000 wartegs (restaurants), which has been ongoing since Monday (2/22), was launched on Tuesday (3/24). ACT activates again 100 more wartegs who work together on the program. Each warteg will distribute 100 free meals each day.
"We are activating 100 more wartegs today. Our target is to collaborate with 1,000 wartegs in Jakarta who will work together to help our brothers and sisters during the COVID-19 emergency period. Hopefully, in the future we can share more and more so that the impact will also become more widespread, "said Sutaryo from the ACT Program Team.