They accuse RSTA for the delaying the issuance

Transport: Despite extending the deadline thrice, about 57 taxi drivers have not registered with the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) to avail the taxi-operating permit.  Without the permit they will not be allowed to operate their taxis.

From the initial deadline of September 30 last year, it was extended till October 15 and then October 31st during which a penalty of Nu 3,000 was also announced.

Even after the October 31 deadline, about 187 taxi drivers failed to obtain the permits, RSTA officials said. Some of them approached the information and communications ministry after which the deadline was extended till December 31 last year.

However, RSTA officials said there were still some taxi drivers who kept visiting the office this month with various reasons for missing the deadline.

RSTA’s director general Lham Dorji said depending on the case, they are forwarded to the ministry.

“We then regularize the taxis and issue the permit if eligible,” he said. “We announced that taxi drivers without the permit will have to convert their taxis to private vehicles by this month end.”

As of September, RSTA records show 3,874 taxis in the country with the highest registered in Thimphu and Phuentsholing.

The permit was issued to taxi owners holding valid taxi driving licenses operating in places other than Thimphu and Phuentsholing as new taxi registration in these two locations are suspended.

Not all the registered taxi owners are issued the permit. Civil servants, corporate and project employees, besides people who were operating hired taxis before July last year were not issued the permits. Taxi drivers pay Nu 300 for the permit and not Nu 150 as reported earlier.

Taxi drivers who failed to apply for the permits before December 31 deadline are approaching the information and communications minister to look into the issue. They are hopeful that they will be granted “a last chance”. Some are accusing the RSTA for the missed deadline.

Gathered at the ministry’s parking yesterday, one said that although he had submitted all the documents before the deadline, it was not registered in the system when he went to follow it up.

“I went again with the documents but I was told I missed the deadline by two days,” he said. “There are many cases like mine.”

Another taxi driver said initially the drivers rushed to RSTA to apply for the permit but were told to wait and that they would be given enough time.

“Then I left for pilgrimage with my parents. When I returned, the deadline was closed,” he said.

“A majority of us (taxi drivers) are the sole bread earners and have to repay the loan that enabled us to buy the taxi,” an elderly taxi driver said. “I hope the concerned agencies would look into the issue.”

Taxi drivers also complained of RSTA making new rules every now and then. “If it’s to control the number of taxis, what about private vehicles? Do they not cause congestion?” asked one.

Meanwhile, RSTA officials clarified that taxis registered in various parts of the country can operate in other dzongkhags except for Thimphu and Phuentsholing where there are excess taxis. New taxi registration has been suspended in Thimphu and Phuentsholing until further notice.

Kinga Dema