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Immobile Thailand taxis are seeing new life as mini garden beds

Thailand is reusing a fleet of idled taxis to grow food for drivers and operators who are out of work due to COVID-19.

Workers from two taxi co-operatives have been assembling small gardens on taxi roofs, using black plastic garbage bags stretched across bamboo frames.

Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi cooperatives joined forces in an attempt to make use of thousands of unused taxis in Bangkok.

The companies only have 500 cars operating in the city, with over 2,500 sitting idle at several city sites, executive Thapakorn Assawalertkul told AFP.

They’re using the abandoned vehicles to grow a variety of crops including cucumbers, tomatoes, chilies, and string beans:

“Growing vegetables on top of the roofs won’t damage the taxis since most of them have already been damaged beyond repair. The engines are broken, tyres are flat. There’s nothing that could be done,” Assawalertkul said.

The taxi trade in Bangkok usually relies heavily on tourists but with heavy restrictions due to COVID, the capital’s streets have been quiet.

While growing food is the ultimate goal for the project, it’s hoped it will also bring attention to the taxi drivers and operators who’ve been badly hit by coronavirus lockdowns.

This has left too much competition for too few fares, resulting in less and less work for drivers.

Many drivers are unable to afford daily payments on the vehicles, even after they’ve been halved to 300 baht ($12.39), causing many drivers to abandon their cars in the lot.

As the fares dried up, drivers left Bangkok for their homes, leaving taxi graveyards behind.

It’s hoped that after helping the drivers, any leftover food can be sold at local markets.

Thailand’s new cases have dropped to under 15,000 in recent days after peaking over 23,400 around mid-August.

The government is hoping the countries easing out of this wave, which has been their deadliest so far.

The recent wave has accounted for 97% of Thailand’s total cases and over 99% of their deaths.

Throughout the pandemic, Thailand has confirmed over 1.4 million cases and more than 14,000 deaths.