Taxi fleets in Thailand are giving makeovers to cabs idled by the coronavirus crisis. The rooftops of the cars are turned into mini-gardens and vegetable plots.
Workers from two taxi cooperatives assembled the miniature gardens earlier this week using black plastic garbage bags stretched across bamboo frames. On top, they added soil in which variety of crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans were planted.
What followed were pieces of art dotting the streets. But that's not the whole point here. This was actually done to draw attention to the plight of taxi drivers and operators who have been badly affected by the coronavirus induced lockdown.
It may be mentioned, the Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi cooperatives currently have 500 cars plying on the streets of Bangkok and 2,500 are sitting idle at a number of city sites, as per reports.
Reportedly, with the capital’s streets deathly quiet until recently, there’s been too much competition for too few fares, resulting in a fall in drivers’ incomes. Many now can’t afford the daily payments on the vehicles, even after the charge was halved to 300 baht ($9.09). So they have walked away, leaving the cars idle in long rows.
Some drivers even surrendered their cars and left for their homes when the pandemic hit last year. More gave up after the second wave of the pandemic because they were scared.
With coronavirus cases not decreasing in Thailand, the drivers continue to face financial peril, struggling to repay loans of their fleets. The drivers are complaining that the government is yet to help them in this case.
While the mini rooftop gardens look cute and beautiful, it is not offering the drivers any financial support. The cooperatives staff, who were asked to take salary cuts, are now taking turns tending the newly-made gardens.
The cooperatives are of the view that the gardens are both - an act of protest and a way to feed the staff during these tough times.