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Business

Delivery service great for workers, not so profitable for drivers

Go-Jek got into the food delivery business in April 2015.

JAKARTA -- A motorcycle delivery service here has been saving office workers from having to step out into Indonesia's stifling midday temperatures to compete for a seat at a crowded sidewalk kitchen.

Karen, a 27-year-old working in central Jakarta, ordered a Vietnamese sandwich from a store in a nearby shopping mall via the Go-Jek app.

Karen paid 60,000 rupiah ($4.58) for the sandwich and 5,000 rupiah for the delivery.

"I appreciate this service when I am busy," she said.

Like Karen, workers in Jakarta's central business district are gradually embracing workplace lunch deliveries. The nominal delivery fee is helping to convince them.

In Indonesia, many workers take a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. Restaurants and street stalls fill up at this time, making an empty seat nearly impossible to find.

Besides competing for that seat, workers also must deal with muggy temperatures of around 30 C.

Go-Jek, which began as a motorbike ride-hailing app, got into the food delivery business in April 2015.

Customers place their orders on their smartphones. A motorbike driver then makes the purchase and delivers the meal to the customer's office or home. About 37,000 restaurants, mainly in Greater Jakarta, are on Go-Jek's menu. Customers can also order food from nonregistered restaurants that accept takeout orders.

Although Go-Jek does not disclose the number of orders made through the app, the company said it is stably increasing.

Demand, though, is not Go-Jek's main worry. The service provider is actually trying to solve a different problem: There are now so many motorbike taxi drivers, about 200,000 in the country, and competing apps that drivers are only making a pittance.

Some complain that their take-home pay is now less than half what it was a year ago.

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