Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Idle cabs in Thailand used to grow vegetables

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Taxi fleets in Thailand are giving new meaning to the term “rooftop garden,” as they utilize the roofs of cabs idled by the coronavirus crisis to grow vegetables. 

Workers from two taxi cooperatives assembled the miniature gardens using black plastic garbage bags stretched across bamboo frames. On top, they added soil in which a variety of crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans were planted.

As a result, the lobby looks more like an art installation than a parking lot. And that is part of the goal: bringing attention to the hardships experienced by taxi drivers and operators as a result of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi cooperatives now have 500 cars left on Thailand’s streets, with another 2,500 parked at a number of city sites, said 54-year-old executive Thapakorn Assawalertkul.

Up until recently, the streets of Bangkok were dead quiet, resulting in too much competition for lesser fares, which led to a drop in drivers’ incomes.

“The vegetable garden is both an act of protest and a way to feed my staff during this tough time,” said Thapakorn

With this initiative, the companies aim at helping their out-of-work drivers and other employees. It is hoped that after utilising the veggies for their own use, the employees can sell leftover food at local markets.

Despite the halving of the daily charge to 300 baht (USD 9.09), many are still unable to pay for their vehicles, Thapakorn said. These people have now walked away, leaving the cars parked in long queues in silence.

Assawalertkul added that when the pandemic hit last year, some drivers surrendered their cars and returned to their homes in the rural areas. The second wave saw more people giving up and returning their vehicles.

According to Thapakorn, the Rattaprak and Bovorn cooperatives owe close to 2 billion baht ($60.8 million). There has been no direct financial assistance from the government to date.

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