• Wed. May 18th, 2022

Taxi drivers in Thailand are turning taxis into gardens amid the COVID crisis

ByElla E. Kidwell

Sep 22, 2021

BANGKOK, September 22 – As demand for taxis dries up in Thailand and thousands of drivers leave the city, a Bangkok taxi company has turned its vehicles into mini vegetable gardens, hoping to ease the coronavirus crisis.

The Ratchapruek Taxi Co-op has taken hundreds of cars off the road over the past year amid an economic downturn made worse by months of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has left many drivers with insufficient income to pay the rent of their vehicles.

The co-op is growing vegetables on the roofs and hoods of 300 of the disused taxis, providing its drivers and members with food to share while sending a message to the government to do more to help deal with the difficulties.

“We discussed among ourselves and decided to grow vegetables to eat because these taxis are useless,” said Thapakorn Asawalertkul, business consultant for the company.

A worker sprinkles water on vegetables planted on the roof of unused taxis due to the business crisis caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at a taxi garage in Bangkok, Thailand, September 16, 2021.
Reuters/Chalinee Thirasupa

“They’ve just turned to metal because they’ve been parking for over a year now.”

Thailand has recorded more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases and 15,600 deaths, 99% of them since April this year. Only 21% of the population has been vaccinated.

On hundreds of pink and orange taxis, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and basil leaves grow from the earth contained in black plastic sheets reinforced with bamboo or wooden poles.

Kamolporn Boonnitiyong, a company administrator, said that although the gardens keep people busy, they are only a temporary solution.

Miniature gardens are seen on the roof of unused taxis at a taxi garage in Bangkok, Thailand, September 16, 2021.
Miniature gardens are seen on the roof of unused taxis at a taxi garage in Bangkok, Thailand, September 16, 2021.
Reuters/Chalinee Thirasupa

“To some degree it helped reduce our stress, but that’s not really the answer,” Kamolporn said.

“The government should also step in to help us too.”