Neten Dorji | Trashigang

Taxi driver Khawjey of Trashiyangtse has a new responsibility. Every time he stops for a passenger, he notes down all the details of the passenger, sometimes at the uneasiness of the valued customer.

Khawjey takes down the name, phone number, citizenship identity card number, residential address and so on in his passenger logbook.  This had been the routine when plying between Trashiyangtse and Trashigang in his Bolero taxi since officials from dzongkhag asked him to maintained a logbook.

The details will come handy in tracing people if ever there is a case of new coronavirus suspected.

Khawjey is as cooperative as his passengers. Khawjey said that it is a good idea to trace people, incase a passenger is infected by COVID-19. “It would be much easier to trace all the people who had been together with the infected person,” he said.

Another taxi driver, Sonam Tashi, said that as a responsible citizen, it was their duty to help the government when the country is going through a bad time. “We ought to do more than this, but there is nothing we can do.”

Sonam Tashi had noted down details of more than 10 passengers who travelled between Trashiyangtse and Trashigang. “Sometimes, passenger questioned us, but after explaining to them the reasons, they also cooperate,” he said.

Taxi drivers are also becoming cautious. Thinley Dargey’s taxi is equipped with hand sanitisers and he ensures his passengers use it before entering or leaving his taxi. “It would be much better, if passenger vehicles like bolero and buses could also maintain passenger logbook and sanitisers. Most of the passengers travel in boleros and buses,” he said.

A passenger, Dorji Phuntsho, said that he felt safer when drivers asked him for his details. “It is a good initiative taken by taxi drivers,” he said. He added that he personally feel proud when all people come together and united to fight the threat of COVID-19. “It is the most appreciated and commendable job initiated by taxi driver,” he said.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers are seeing not many passengers as people are avoiding unnecessary travels. A regular commuter along the route and based in Trashiyangtse, Neten Tshering, said movement of people has drastically reduced in the locality, adding that it was a good sign that people are aware about COVID-19. “We don’t get many passengers between Trashiyangtse and Trashigang, but today it was worse,” he said.

Traffic police of Trashigang and Trashiyangtse are monitoring if taxis are maintaining passenger logbook or not.

Almost all the taxi drivers of Trashigang and Trashiyangtse have maintained passenger logbooks. Taxi driver sin Trashiyangtse have started recording details from March 8, while taxi drivers in Trashigang started it on March 13.

A few drivers, who cannot write, said they seek the help of passengers to write down their details.

“Passengers understand and cooperate with us, which is a good sign of coming together to battle COVID-19,” a driver in Trashigang said.