Over 300 taxi drivers in the capital met today in RSTA hall where they shared problems faced due to the new traffic rules of pick-and-drop sites designated at different areas in town. Other than in the designated areas, taxis are not allowed to make abrupt stops to pick up passengers.
This is a follow up move from the taxi community after the first meet conducted last Sunday in Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School where taxi drivers were asked to follow the rules of pick-and-drop. The taxi drivers found the new rules inconvenient for them and for the passengers as well.
The meeting came to the conclusion that, for the time-being and until elections, they will be allowed to follow the same traffic rules as before.
Some of the taxi drivers said it was hard to follow the new traffic rules, and many of the drivers have even got pulled-over by traffic police for not complying with the rules, and were served warnings that their vehicle documents would be seized if the offence is repeated.
Another reason that the new traffic rule is not in favor pertains to the convenience factor for passengers. Drivers shared that they get various kinds of passengers – young, old, handicapped, patients, mostly office goers on weekdays and passengers carrying luggage. The taxi drivers stated it was problematic for them to leave things in the taxi parking and walk to their destinations. At times, the passengers’ destination falls where there are no taxi stands.
Taxis were not allowed to stop in the middle of a way if they happened to find a person stopping a taxi, and if caught drivers have to pay a fine of Nu 1,750.
Sangay, a taxi driver since 2007 said so far he didn’t get caught by traffic police.
“But I think I will get caught more often and will be fined for breaking the rules,” he said.
He feels that if these rules are to be implemented, problems will arise as the rules are not easy to follow.
Some say the rules have been just formed specifically for taxi drivers and not implied to city buses. Tek Nath, 27, said rules are only for the taxi drivers while city buses are free from such rules. He added there has to be equal rule for both, and the city buses must also be imposed a limit on the number of passengers it can carry.
Taxi drivers also pointed out that city buses also stopped wherever the passengers hailed for the bus to stop, and the rule must be made uniform for both taxis and buses, if the new rule should come into force.
Taxi drivers said this has really caused problems and has hampered their earning, in just two days, which is their only means of income.
Taxi tshogpa Dorji Wangchuk agreed that taxi drivers had a difficult time following the rules and although the new rules are, indeed a good thing, to help keep city free from traffic congestion and clean. However, he said such rules are causing problems for the taxi drivers, despite the best effort from RSTA, traffic police and thromde.
He said from day one he started getting number of calls from the taxi drivers complaining and frustrated for being caught and warned by police for not parking at their respective parking areas, which is inadequate.
The taxi association intends to invite the thromde people in a meeting to discuss matters as well.
“It is decided that we will be following the same old rules, which we have been following until election gets over, and next meeting will be conducted after the consultation with the public and concerned agency,” the taxi tshogpa said.
In Thimphu alone, there are about 2,500 registered taxi drivers including government service people who work over time after office.
There are three permanent parking areas for taxis, in Lungtenzampa area, local taxi parking and the other at city bus parking area.