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Bhutanese officials consider hike in taxi fare
Publication Date : 29-07-2013
After having revised the bus fares in December last year, the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) of Bhutan is now holding discussions on possibility of revising the taxi fares.
This discussion comes at a time when the petrol prices have escalated to 67.07 ngultrum (US$1.13) (Thimphu) and diesel to 51.09 ngultrum per litre. The last revision took place in August 2011, when RSTA increased the per kilometer charge to 15 ngultrum.
“We have been revising fares on a timely basis and it’s been a while since the last revision on taxi fares was carried out,” said Lham Dorji, RSTA director general. “But we also have to wait and see if the price fluctuation is stable or not.”
According to a notification from RSTA, when it revised the bus fares last year, it also stated that thereon, revisions on either the bus or tax fares shall come in the month of December and implemented on the first of January “unless there is fluctuation in gasoline prices.”
However, a representative of the taxi drivers in Thimphu, Rinchen Tshering, said even if the authority increased the fares, it will be very difficult since there are too many civil servants who work as part time taxi drivers and are willing to run on low fares.
Moreover, with too many city buses making rounds, he said chances are that increasing fares may backfire instead.
“For now, we have all decided that we won’t push for any revision from our end, irrespective of how high the gas prices,” Rinchen Tshering said, adding the solution may lie in allowing them to carry an extra passenger.
But, Lham Dorji said that allowing an extra passenger would involve risks, citing their recent decision to disallow city buses from ferrying standing passengers came after taking this into account.
On the issue where not just government drivers and officials have been driving taxis, Lham Dorji said the new government has already pledged a solution to this problem.
Another taxi driver, Sangay, who drives between Thimphu town and Lungtenphug, said that unless they worked until midnight or 1am, it was difficult to make profit.
“When I take passengers to their destinations, there is no surety that I will get other passengers while returning,” he said. “If I don’t get any, it’s my loss,” he said.