Chimi Dema | Tsirang

Although the implementation of physical distancing in taxis was widely regarded by many people, commuters say that cabbies are overcharging because they cannot carry more than two passengers.

Karma, a student, said that going from Thimphu to Tsirang he was charged Nu 1,100 “The rate normally is Nu 750.”

Karma travelled home with his friend after completing 21-day quarantine period in the capital. For his friend, Santa Rai, who was going to Gelephu was charged a fare of Nu 1,800.

“Fuel prices have dropped but drivers are robbing the people,” Santa Rai said.

A woman said that she had to go to Gelephu recently due to some emergency. She had to pay the cabbie Nu 1,600.

“The authorities concerned should look into this matter,” she said. “These are tough times for everyone.”

Passang Dorji Tamang who faced a similar situation recently said that taxis drivers were taking advantage during such a situation. “There are other drivers, though, who do not charge the passengers arbitrarily.”

Cabbies argue that carrying only two passengers affected their business. “Even with a drop in fuel prices, there is a difference of only Nu 300,” one said. “And there aren’t many travellers these days.”

But there are others who see it differently. Tshering, a cabbie, said that his business was not affected with just two passengers and the same fare rates.

The Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) recently issued interim standard operation procedures for public buses and taxis; the carrying capacity of busses and taxis has been reduced by half.

On April 3, the communication ministry circulated a directive to the RSTA to strictly monitor the operation of public transport in order to ensure uninterrupted services and also to avoid overcharging of fares.

Meanwhile, the regional RSTA office in Tsirang hasn’t received any formal complaint yet.

“When it comes to fare, it has to remain the same,” the official said adding that the passengers should report if excess charges are being claimed.

“The monitoring is also underway,” he said.