Issues: Taxi fares the government has prescribed, Taxi Operating Permit (TOP), and the BBIN motor vehicle agreement (MVA) are the three issues taxi drivers in Phuentsholing are bothered about these days.

The taxi fare book of July 2015 has maintained same rates for different vehicles with varying number of seats. This has not gone well with the cabbies.

According to the fare book, a taxi driver must charge a full fare of Nu 768 to drop passengers from Phuentsholing until Gedu. It is about 48km.

Cabs with more seats say such uniform rates affect their business. A four-seater passenger would pay Nu 192 for a ride until Gedu, while a passenger in an 11-seater taxi would pay up just Nu 70.

“I really want to know the person who analysed such rates,” a cabbie from Samtse Karsang said, adding that even the driver seat was also considered in the fare book rates. “Who will pay for the driver?”

At present taxi drivers with all different seaters charge Nu 200 per passenger until Gedu from Phuentsholing. The new fare book is disrupting the current trend that cabbies do not have any problem, Karsang said.

Taxi drivers at the taxi stand in Phuentsholing shared that government must focus more on the problems drivers raise. Some said that cabbies have raised several other problems since 2004, which has not been considered.

One taxi driver said government asking us to follow the new fare system, and TOP, and BBIN agreement was so sudden and unexpected.

Taxi tshogpa’s representative Karma in Phuentsholing said the cabbies were also worried of TOP and the new rules that may be applicable in some time from now.

“We are Bhutanese and we must be allowed to work anywhere in our country,” the representative said.

Karma also said that TOP was introduced to reduce congestions. Just making the taxis to work towards reducing congestion, while other vehicles were not included, he said was “not fair.”

“We don’t want this TOP card,” Karma said.

Taxi representative also said that the places’ name on a taxi is looking funny. It is a waste of Nu 400.

According to Karma, the main reason taxi drivers in Phuentsholing and across the country were unhappy today is because the agencies who placed such policies never consulted with the cabbies.

“Cabs registered in Phuentsholing are not allowed to do work in Thimphu,” Karma said. “This is a harassment.”

Similar to what the truckers in Phuentsholing had pointed on the motor agreement with three neighbouring countries, taxi drivers also said they were unhappy with the government’s plan to allow vehicles from other countries ply the roads in the country. While huge number of foreign trucks entering in can distress the environment, road, culture, and security, taxi drivers mentioned was that they would not be able to compete for business in other countries.

A lot of trucks plying into the country also mean that trucks would use huge volume of subisidised fuel, drivers said.

Yeshey Wangdi, another taxi driver said government must rather focus in not allowing taxies from across the border to ply farther from border points.

“Our business is down at the moment,” he said.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing