Yeshey Lhadon

A group of taxi drivers spend nearly three hours at the pick-up and drop-off zone near Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu arguing over the new lane system.

Tshegay, a committee member of Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA), complained that some of his fellow drivers were making mockery of the traffic rules. “We made this rule ourselves to address the problem of parking space shortage but we lack cooperation among ourselves. If we make the rules rubbish, we might lose the permit to park along the private spots.”

The cab drivers were restricted from parking in a private parking spot at Chang Lam and Norzin Lam after the lane system. BTA requested the traffic officials to let them park their taxi at the private parking lot along Chang Lam.

 “At the designated parking area the drivers have to wait the whole day if other cab drivers picked up passengers from undesignated place,” said Tshegay.

There are about 4,000 taxis in Thimphu. The new taxi stand has space for only 35 taxis.

Sharchok Drukpa, a taxi driver said that he once had to  do ten rounds around the city to enter the new parking stand.

Mohan Lal, a taxi driver, said that allowing taxi drivers to pick the clients from outside the designated parking lot would be convenient.

Jigme Singye, another cab driver, said the new system was ridiculous.

Taxi drivers are being issued Traffic Infringement Notice (TIN) by the traffic police while queueing to enter the  new parking lot.

Kinley Tshering, a taxi driver, said: “Traffic police should monitor the vehicles waiting to enter the new taxi stand instead of issuing TIN for small mistakes.”

Dorji, a taxi driver, said that the old system worked better. “Taxi drivers should vote to either reinstitute the old system or follow the new rule.”

Taxi drivers were flouting the parking rules and so have lost parking right to park at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH).

“We will be the one to suffer if we refuse to respect the rule,” Tshegay said.

 “Heated arguments on the parking issue leads to physical brawl sometimes. It’s quite an unhealthy show,” said a taxi driver.

The BTA in collaboration with Thimphu Thromde has identified 26 locations to build new taxi parking to address parking space shortage in Thimphu.

“No matter how many more taxi stands we come up with, there will always be some taxi drivers who would make situations difficult for the rest,” said an association’s tshogpa.