Two taxi cooperatives in Thailand are transforming their idle cars to become plot for vegetable plants.
Workers from the Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi cooperatives recently started building their “veggie taxis” as a source of food for many taxi drivers’ families. They see this act as a result of the continued increase of displaced taxi jobs in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the cooperative’s executive Thapakorn Assawalertkul, many cannot afford the daily payments that has to be made on the taxi vehicles. This is despite the recent slashing of the price by almost a half.
With this, many drivers have walked away, leaving their cars in long rows in the streets, and opting to migrate to rural areas or finding a job replacement.
“Some left their cars at places like gas stations and called us to pick the cars up,” Assawalertkul shared in an interview with AP News.
The Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi cooperatives have reported that there are 500 cars left plying Bangkok’s streets, with 2,500 sitting idle at a number of city sites.
Currently, the range of the crops they’ve planted include tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans. But contrary to public knowledge, the taxi-top gardens do not serve as an alternative revenue stream for the cooperatives’ staff, but as an act of protest.
Recent COVID-19 cases in Thailand peaked at over 23,000 this August, accounting for more than 97% of Thailand’s total cases and more than 99% of total deaths. This recent wave has left taxi companies struggling to repay loans on the purchase of their vehicles. And with no direct financial support being offered by the government, turning unused taxis into gardens for fresh produce was one of the things that workers could do to bring attention to this issue and feed their families as well.
“The vegetable garden is both an act of protest and a way to feed my staff during this tough time,” Thapakorn said in an interview with Associated Press. “Thailand went through political turmoil for many years, and a great flood in 2011, but business was never this terrible,” he added.