Taxis and buses offer help to govt despite drop in business after COVID-19

The Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA) and bus operators have pledged their services towards the nation’s wellbeing, should the Coronavirus situation get out of hand in the country.

BTA Chairman, Rinzin Chophel, said BTA has enlisted 100 taxis each for Phuentsholing and Thimphu and 20 taxis each in all the other dzongkhags to give free ambulance-like services around the clock.

“Yes, there have been quite a decrease in our daily incomes, which if we compare from what most of the taxis had on average in the past of around Nu 2,000 per day, now it could be something like close to Nu 1,000- if one is lucky. Having said that, most of us are empathetic with the situation the country is in (or could be in), ‘health comes before wealth’ is what most of us agreed upon, and we are ready to step up for service shall the Tsa-Wa-Sum need us.”

Reportedly, the taxi association has also been supported by Bhutan Red Cross Society, which has not only helped in making sanitizers available to the taxi association, but also have given assistance in providing first-aid kit training to them.

Rinzin said , “We are one of the prominent players when it comes to spreading news to the most basic level, and considering that, our teams have been well advised to refrain from, as well as educate people about fake news. Unlike the audio, visual or print media, we have a higher accountability, in terms of that, we cannot let things get complicated than it already is.”

The owners of buses conducted a meeting at the RSTA and concluded that they are also ready to provide such services shall the country needed transportation assistance.

On this, Meto Transport CEO, Karma Nidup, said, “In terms of business, transportation has been really affected. But during such time of emergency, it is our duty to serve the country. Of course, we do feel the pinch, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of our health. During the meeting, our compatriots were willing to stretch-out to provide free services and we discussed about mobilizing the fleets from the bus operators’ end should the country go on a red zone level on COVID-19 chart. The discussion was mainly to get in sync and rededicate ourselves to serving the nation, which turned out well.”

“We have also volunteered to take all the amenities like masks, medical equipment or other related items to help prevent the disease- free of cost throughout the country. Taking into consideration, we also discussed on getting consent of our employees to give us support during such times in serving the nation. It is a matter of human right, and I think it is not right to pressurize someone to go beyond their way just because they are our employees,” he added.

Subash Biswa, CEO, Subash Transport agreed to Mr. Karma who said, “I think if this goes on for long, we would be working out on innovative strategies, maybe by minimalizing the routes taken and I think by that time, we will be working along with concerned authorities and would be duly advised on the matter. We will have to minimize the operations to cut down on losses while making sure to keep our vehicles in standby to serve the nation”.

Mr. Subash added, “All of us are doing the same thing and in the meeting, we discussed these probable underlying issues, shall we have to battle the red zone. People will stop moving during such times and I think authorities will tell us to stop as well”.

Director General of RSTA, Pemba Wangchuk thanked the bus operators and the taxi association for coming to support the RSTA and stated that it was such a pleasure and an emotional gesture they had received.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, Minister of Economic Affairs stated that the ministry will ensure that the fuel depots won’t go out of stock and that transportation on ground will not be hampered in that regard.

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