Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) will put a cap on the number of taxi vehicles in the country.

DNT president Lotay Tshering at a meeting with representatives of taxi drivers in Paro at the Wangchang gup office yesterday, said his party would limit the number of taxis in the country to protect the income and the livelihood of the taxi drivers.

He said that the ceiling could be reviewed and adjusted from time to time depending on the increase in population, and other factors.

The taxi drivers at the meeting raised numerous issues to Lotay Tshering including the taxi operating permit (TOP), civil servants driving taxis and parking space.

The party has pledged in the first 120 days to meet taxi tshogpa, thromde representatives and other agencies to address issues facing taxi drivers over parking space, professional driving licence and ownership, age of vehicles and age of drivers.

The party would not implement the TOP card rule, the president said.

The party had opposed the government’s initiative when it was launched in March 2016. Then the DNT had called the introduction of TOP a “policy of social injustice” and asked the government to reconsider the decision.

TOP is a permit issued to taxi owners by the Road safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), without which they will not be allowed to drive around as taxis.

The authorities stated that the reasons for implementing these rules are to reduce the number of taxis in order to reduce congestion,identify and reduce misbehaviour by taxi drivers and prevent civil servants from driving taxi among others.

The party had said that the policy would allow only those who can afford to buy a taxi and not the ones who are supporting their families by running a hired taxi.

“We understand your concerns and will do what is needed to protect the livelihood of taxi drivers,” Lotay Tshering said.

The president also met with the people of two constituencies in Paro yesterday. The meetings coincided with the first day of paddy harvest in the gewogs. “Many are in the fields busy harvesting and could not come,”an elderly man from Wangchang said.

When Lotay Tshering asked the gathering about their view on the party’s pledge to give incentives to mothers in rural areas, a man in the crowd said, “It must be a lie.”

The crowd cackled. This led Lotay Tshering explaining the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

The president, accompanied by security personnel reached Phuentsholing yesterday and will campaign in Samtse today.

Tshering Palden | Paro