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Green-thumbed Thai cabbies turn taxis into gardens amid COVID-19 crunch

BANGKOK (Reuters) – With demand for taxis drying up in Thailand and thousands of drivers leaving town, one Bangkok cab company has turned its vehicles into mini vegetable gardens, hoping to take the edge off the coronavirus crunch.

The Ratchapruek Taxi Cooperative has taken hundreds of cars off the road in the past year amid a slowing economy worsened by months of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has left many drivers with insufficient income to pay the lease on their vehicles.

The cooperative grows vegetables on the roofs and bonnets of 300 of the disused cabs, providing its drivers and members with food to share while sending a message to the government to do more to help with the hardship.

“We discussed among each other and decided to grow vegetables to eat because there is no use for these taxis,” said Thapakorn Asawalertkul, a business consultant for the company.

“They have become just metal as 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 those since April this year. Just 21% of the population has been vaccinated.

On hundreds of pink and orange taxis, chilis, eggplants, cucumbers and basil leaves sprout from soil contained in black plastic sheeting reinforced with bamboo or wooden poles.

Kamolporn Boonnitiyong, an administrator with the company, said though the gardens keep people occupied, they are only a temporary fix.

“To a certain extent, it has helped with lessening our stress but it isn’t really the answer,” Kamolporn said.

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

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