From Bangkok’s abandoned taxis, a surreal garden sprouts

In long rows they sit idle, mothballed taxis awaiting the day that travelers return and need to get around Bangkok again.

After a year and a half of heavy losses and debt for drivers, about 300 unused cabs packing a lot in the capital’s Ratchapruek area have been given a new purpose: rooftop gardens.

From chilis and basil to spring onions, the vegetables are being grown on the taxis’ hoods and roofs at the Ratchapruek Taxi Cooperative. It said upward of 2,000 drivers have returned their vehicles because they were unable to pay their lease fees.

Taxi drivers, who run on thin margins in the best of times, have been devastated by the pandemic. “You’re the second customer today,” a driver who only identified himself as Sompol told a reporter yesterday in the Phrom Phong area. 

Sompol said that, on good days, he has been getting up to five fares. A very good day means someone traveling a long way, such as between home and the airport. On the worst days, he gets only one customer.

“I’ve owed money to the cab’s garage for three months now,” he added. “I don’t know if, at the end of this month, I can pay for even one month." 



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