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People question govt.’s rationale to allow movement of taxis

Many people say that private cars are safer than taking or allowing a ride in a taxi

The decision of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to allow movement of taxis within the mega-zone and other mega-zones in Thimphu as part of the nation moving towards relaxing restrictions has many questioning the rationale behind the decision.

Many people say that private cars are safer than taking or allowing a ride in a taxi.    

“Private cars are safer than taxis. I don’t see any logic in this decision. I would prefer to take my private car to a shop and get back home than by a taxi, or walk,” one of the residents in Thimphu said.

He said that those with genuine reasons for hospital visits must be allowed to travel in their cars and that traveling in a taxi simply increases the risk.

“Indeed, private cars are safe if we need to get our essentials. I don’t understand why taxis are allowed and not private cars,” he added.

Another resident said, “There may be a good reason for the government not allowing private vehicles but based on my opinion it is safer than a taxi.”

“Taxis are allowed to move and allowed to carry passengers, so this is how more positive cases are increasing day by day and everything will go worse,” she said.

She explained that taxis will pick up and drop passengers, whether the person availing their service is a primary contact or Covid positive. “A private personal car will be safer to stop spreading the virus than a taxi.”

“Walking is risky too. When people walk, they encounter people on the way and land up talking whereas in a private car, they will directly go to their designated places and come back home, which enables meeting fewer people than walking,” she said.

According to the PMO, taxis can operate within the mega-zone.

However, it is allowed to only ferry people of the same cohort -family members, friends, or colleagues and they are not allowed to pick up other passengers along the way. With this, passengers are also reminded to refrain from traveling with strangers in the same taxi.

Further, PMO states that taxis may cross over to other mega-zones for passengers with emergency reasons such as medical, death, and vaccination purposes. While e-pass is not required, convincing evidence like medical documents has to be produced upon inquiry by the police or De-Suup on duty.

Meanwhile, people have also commented on the PMO’s press releases to allow taxis movement in the inter-zone.

However, some of the residents in Thimphu said the concerned authorities need to relook into such requests.

“What’s the point of allowing inter-zone movement in a taxi? Who knows how many people may have used that taxi on the same day? Maybe even someone who is asymptomatic may have used it,” one of the residents said.

He said allowing taxis to ferry people instead of private vehicles is ridiculous.

“It will pose a greater threat of spreading the virus. I suggest driving one’s car is safer if we follow strict protocols than walking.”

There are also others who claim that most of the taxi drivers are now the recipients of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu and that there are far worse wage workers, who don’t own a taxi and yet the relevant authorities overlooked.

“I think it’s not even checked whether those using the taxis are from the same cohort or family,” he added.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu