Of taxis, buses and trucks

Recently the NRDCL carried out reforms to counter the growing trend of truckers acting as middlemen and inflating sand prices.

In protest, the truckers tried to organize a virtual strike by trying to stop fellow truckers from going for sand collection.

Taxi drivers outside the arrival terminal of the Paro International airport charge a uniform rate of Nu 1,400 for a one way trip to Thimphu which is almost double of the Nu 800 RSTA rate.

The drivers are so well organized that only one driver can leave at a time by following a token system so that no passenger can bargain to bring down the high and illegal rate.

It is important to remember that for many of our foreign guests, this might be the first impression of Bhutan.

Another example is of the rowdy behavior of taxi drivers in the taxi parking right in between the RBP traffic police office and the RSTA headquarters in Thimphu.

These drivers hound passengers and fight among themselves with some even grabbing passengers’ luggage’s before a passenger even decides.

The passengers are also subject to rude comments, immature sulking and at times even aggressive behavior if they go with a driver of their choice.

There is then the taxi stand outside the main bus station in Phuentsholing where again the behavior of the taxi drivers  create a rude impression on foreign visitors or even visitors from other Dzongkhags. Here again the irony is that the RSTA office is in the vicinity.

The less said about the condition of our public transport buses the better, including the pompous and arbitrary behavior of the bus drivers. The bus passengers are treated more like baggage to be transported from point A to B with no customer service mentality. The bus stations in both Thimphu and Phuentsholing are right under the RSTA’s noses.

There is then the Taxi Association in Thimphu that strongly lobbies against improving public transport, never mind that such transport is mostly used by those who cannot afford taxis.

All of the above are all stark examples of regulatory failure on the part of both the RSTA and also the traffic police.

It is not adequate to ensure that taxi drivers wear a Gho or carry a license and end the matter there. There are a lot of other things like prices, behavior, quality of vehicles etc that has to be monitored. It is time that regulatory and enforcement agencies start thinking of consumer protection and rights in addition to the image of our country.

“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”
Erol Ozan

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