Cabbies in Trashigang are unhappy with private vehicles operating as taxis.
Taxi drivers say that private vehicles are hampering their business by carrying passengers at cheaper rates.
They claim that about 10 private vehicles are operating commercially to carry people in the town.
Tashi, a taxi driver from Trashigang, said that despite regular inspections by the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), people are still continuing the practice. “This illegal practice is still rampant and private vehicles continue to operate as cabs.”
Although illegal, the town has been witnessing this practice for some time now.
Another taxi driver said that some of these drivers are seen at the taxi parking looking for passengers. “This affects our small pool of customers.”
Further, he said that at times, taxi drivers do not get a single passenger the whole day. Private vehicles charge less fare and people prefer them to taxis. “It’s a strange competition we are facing today,” he added.
Further, the taxi drivers have heard that the current parking lot will be shifted near the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) office which will exacerbate losses. “If we move to the new location, it would allow private vehicles to pounce on our business.”
Meanwhile, RSTA officials said that it was difficult to monitor private vehicles operating as taxis because passengers refuse to divulge information.
The officials said that private vehicles plying as commercial vehicles are not allowed. “People reported a few such cases to us with evidence. We have penalized the offenders as per the regulations,” said an official.
Vehicles are allowed to carry a certain number of passengers. And as long as they are not violating any laws or unless RSTA has evidence against the drivers, the authority cannot impose penalties, said the RSTA official.
However, even taxi drivers fail to report such practices to RSTA. “When such incidences go unreported, there is nothing much we can do therefore we urge the public to report it.”
According to RSTA rules, private vehicles operating as commercial vehicles will be slapped a fine of Nu 1,750.
Around 53 taxis are registered under the Trashigang taxi association.
Jigme Wangchen from Trashigang