Taxi drivers in Trashigang are unhappy with the municipality’s decision to shift the taxi parking near the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) office.

The decision comes after the completion of a new parking in town.

According to Trashigang taxi tshogpa, Tshewang Dorji, giving away a prime location in the town and moving towards the RSTA office would affect their business.

“This will not only affect the already small pool of customers we have but also cause inconvenience for those who use the taxi services,” Tshewang Dorji said. “Once the parking is shifted, it would be difficult to get customers because the shops are away from the new location.”

Some of the members of the taxi association said that the new taxi parking is located at the edge of the town. “There are several taxis and Trashigang does not have enough people who use taxi services. The location would further limit our chances of getting customers,” a taxi driver said.

There are 53 taxies registered under the Trashigang taxi association.

“If we move to the new location, it would allow private vehicles to pounce on our business,” another taxi driver said.

He said that there are a few private vehicles that function like taxies in the town. “Although illegal, we’ve been observing this practice for some time in Trashigang now.”

Currently, the taxi parking is located at the heart of the town. However, the area is not fully designated for taxis.

Of some 20 plus parking bays (a space large enough to park a vehicle in) at the parking, 11 are designated for taxis. Private vehicles occupy the rest.

RSTA officials say private vehicles plying as the commercial vehicle is not allowed. “People reported few such cases to us with evidence. We have penalised the offenders as per the regulation,” an official said.

However, the official said people and some taxi drivers who even see such practices do not report to RSTA. “When such incidences go unreported, there is nothing much we can do,” she said. “We urge the public to report it.”

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag municipal office would be carrying out the demarcation of the newly constructed parking lot in the coming week.

The taxi parking would be shifted once the demarcation is shifted. “By the end of the month the parking would be shifted to the new location,” another RSTA official said.

According to the official, the location of the new taxi parking was identified as per the town’s structural plan. “Keeping the pedestrian safety in view, we cannot continue to have the taxi parking at the current location,” he said. “Taxi parking is generally located near bus terminals.”

The official said that the information to shift the taxi parking was conveyed to the taxi tshogpa since last year.

Once shifted, the current taxi parking would be converted into a plaza to conduct public functions and entertainment programmes. The area would also remain open to pick up and dropping off passenger provisions since many of the shops are located in the area.

Meanwhile, Trashigang business people say shifting the taxi parking would bring positive impact to their businesses. “Ever since the completion of the new parking area, we have been waiting for it to shift,” a shopkeeper, Dorji, said.

He said that since the area in front of his shop remained occupied by taxis, he had lost several customers who failed to get a parking space.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang