Taxi drivers furious over penalties

Taxi drivers furious over penalties

Apart from their allocation, they want space in the private parking space as well and agree to pay fees for it

A commotion started at the new parking lot yesterday. Disgruntled taxi drivers were complaining aloud and threatening to strike.

The issue was the consequence of a decision that Thimphu Thromde had taken in collaboration with Bhutan Taxi Association. They had introduced a new system wherein taxis have to queue up based on different travel locations in Thimphu but the system has not gone down well with taxi drivers. The new system is not popular with the majority of taxi drivers in Thimphu as there is no waiting area in the taxi parking and the taxi drivers are fined if they wait outside the queue.

The system has lines marked for different travel destinations within the Thimphu Thromde. Taxis must park on their lines-the new parking lot has three parking spaces: one for the city bus, taxis, and private parking. In the old parking lot, there were only 17 parking lots for taxis but the new lines can accommodate 34 taxis. 

After the completion of the new parking lot, the taxis were prohibited to park in the private parking lot and the taxis which parked in the private parking lot were made to pay penalty by  the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA).

A taxi driver from Thimphu, Tshagay said, “I have been working as a taxi driver for almost two years and I have never seen a problem like this.” The taxi drivers are not allowed to park in the private parking lot and are fined Nu 750 for transport infringement. 

“My car was not even parked and it was still running but the RSTA official fined me for not parking within the designated parking area,” he said, adding, “I don’t think the official had to fine me as I didn’t even park my car.”

Another taxi driver said that every day five to ten taxi drivers are made to pay the fine for transport infringement, “Sometimes the RSTA official also fines the same person twice.”

The penalty for transport infringement is Nu 750 which should be paid within seven days.

After the introduction of the queue system, the parking of taxis in the private parking lot was prohibited and the vehicles which are not in the queue are running on the highway as there was inadequate parking space.    

A taxi driver, Tenzin Chophel said that there is no waiting area in the taxi parking and it meant the taxis must run all day long without a stop anywhere. 

Moreover, he also said that they are hardly getting Nu 1,000 a day and when fines are paid they fall into huge loss.“We would be grateful if RSTA would allow us to park in the private parking space as in the new parking lot there is absence of a waiting area for the taxis.”

The taxis are also not allowed to park in the private parking lot between Jojo’s building and Etho Metho Plaza, and Norzin Lam.

The Chairperson of the Taxi Association of Bhutan, Rinzin Chophel said that the new parking lot was constructed to enable passengers to find a taxi with ease and avoid unnecessary clamor.

“Taxi Association of Bhutan will talk to RSTA and request on behalf of taxis to get an approval of parking in the private parking lot so that the current issue can be solved,” he said adding, “Looking at the majority vote, most of the taxi drivers want the line system but along with the approval of parking in the private lot for which they are ready to pay parking fees.”

pic courtesy: facebook

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu