Penalty imposed on Friday, designated as zero tolerance day against traffic violations

Traffic: More than 100 taxi drivers were issued transport infringement notices (TIN) yesterday for violation of traffic rules during an inspection by traffic police on the Thimphu-Babesa expressway.

This has left many taxi drivers unhappy.  They said such an ad hoc enforcement of regulation was not justified.  Taxi drivers gathered at Changlimithang stadium parking to discuss the issue.

Taxi drivers said inspection along the highway started since last Friday, after the traffic police division started observing the zero tolerance day against violation of traffic rules.  Every Friday is observed as zero tolerance day against traffic rule violations.

Taxi drivers said they were allowed to stop along the expressway before, but not since last Friday, which didn’t make sense, as there were no designated taxi stands.  They said the rule was only applicable for taxi drivers, which was unfair, as city buses and private vehicles were allowed to stop everywhere on the expressway.

“Without a taxi stand, how do we stop to pick or drop commuters?” taxi driver Tashi Wangda questioned, emphasising the need for taxi stands along the expressways to avoid traffic violations, which he called unintentional.

Another taxi driver, Sonam Dorji, who was also issued a TIN yesterday, said he was coming from Olakha and stopped below Changjiji colony for a commuter. “The moment I stopped, a traffic police personnel asked for my documents and issued a TIN,” he said.

Some taxi drivers said even city buses didn’t stop at designated stands to pick or drop passengers along the expressway, and yet the bus drivers were not imposed any penalty for violation of traffic rules.

Taxi driver Tashi Tshering wondered how he should manage, if a commuter from Babesa wanted to stop at Changjiji, and he was not allowed to stop anywhere on the expressway. “This means I either pay the fine or drop the commuter straight to town,” he said.

Cabbie Ku Dorji was on his way back after dropping his children to their school in Okakha when he saw a long queue of vehicles stopped by traffic police.  Thinking that it was a routine inspection, Ku Dorji said he also queued.  “I didn’t even stop to pick commuters, but was issued a TIN,” he said.

Taxi association tshogpa, Rinchen Tshering, said officials from Road Safety and Transport Authority, traffic police, Bhutan Post, the thromde and taxi association had a meeting in 2012, during which it was agreed that a designated place for taxis would be identified along the expressway.

“This never materialised and the only designated taxi stands that we have today are in the main town and nowhere along expressway,” he said.

Meanwhile, traffic police officials said they were performing their duty, and that fines were applicable for those, who infringed traffic rules, irrespective of taxis or private vehicles that included improper parking obstructing vehicles and passerby.

About 18 traffic police teams were deployed at different locations in the capital yesterday in a look out for traffic violators.

By Dechen Tshomo