Dokar, traditional transportation that will never die?
Horse and Carriage still going strong
Nowadays, people tend to choose the usage of things that are more practical, fast (no time wasting) and cheap. This is also true for the means of transportation that they use. Streets are now crowded with cars, buses, and motorbikes; and there are no trains and subways in Singaraja. The small town is getting crowded from time to time. Most of the citizens use cars and motorbikes as their vehicles. However, if you go to Anyar Market in the morning, to be exact in Durian Street, you will see some dokars parked there. Dokar is a two wheels cart pulled by a horse. The capacity of the passengers is maximum five (small) persons.
In the past, the dokar was traditional transportation that was very popular among the students, teachers, lecturers, even the rich and the nobles liked to get on this vehicle. It was because there was no mechanised transportation. The cabman of the dokar needs special abilities because not all people can control the running horse so the horse willing to follow the instruction and go wherever the cabman wants. There is also special relationship between the horse and the cabman.
In Singaraja, the village where we can find the cabman is Kampung Singaraja. All of the cabmen in the village are come from outside Bali. They are mostly around the age of 45 to 60. The income as cabman is not really much and it is only enough to feed the family. They also have to get up early so they can get more passengers in the market. Their customers mostly are the mothers who want to buy vegetables or meat to prepare the family’s meal. The women like to use dokar to take them home because they think that dokar is safer and more comfortable than motorbikes or bemo. Because the customers are mostly women at markets, the load of their dokar is commonly: vegetables, rice, meat, fish, flour, etc.
Besides the need of specific skills in controlling the horse and the cart, there is some other equipment needed to do their job as a cabman. The equipments are the cart, a strong horse, string, lamp, etc. Taking care of the horse is also something that is not easy. The stable of the horse should be cleaned regularly, it has to be fed, bathed, and the horse should be provided with horseshoes to avoid pain in the horse’s legs. The horseshoes should be replaced at least once a month.
The profession as cabmen in Singaraja doesn’t have a formal organization like other public transportation. A dokar can take the passenger anywhere the cabmen want, in Anyar Market or in Banyuasri Market. The fare to take dokar is not a fixed fare means that someone can bargain whenever he or she wants to take the dokar. The fare depends on the distance and the load that the customer brings. Usually, you have to pay Rp. 5,000 when you want to take a dokar. A dokar route is not as other route of public transportation that is fixed by the transportation organization. The cabman can take the customers through streets in Singaraja such as Dewi Sartika Street, A. Yani Street, Merak Street, Diponegoro Street, Hasanuddin Street, and Imam Bonjol Street. Sometimes, when the destination of the customer is in narrow alleys, the cabman will carry him or her to the place as long as the dokar can pass through it.
The existence of dokar in Singaraja is not because the cabmen want to maintain the traditional vehicles, but they do not have other choice of working. At the other hand, they love their job and also the horse. They are happy especially when the mothers call them to take the mothers to their destinations.
A panorama from Singaraja Dokars: