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

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.

As a result, the co-operative grows vegetables on the roofs and hoods of 300 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.”

Miniature gardens are seen on the roofs of unused taxis. (Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters)

A worker plants vegetables on a roof of an unused taxi. (Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and strict quarantine measures put in place by the Thai government, taxi rental companies have seen a significant drop in business. (Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

The makeshift planters are used to grow various vegetables, as a means to provide stress relief and some food for workers. (Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Thailand has recorded more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 15,600 deaths, 99 per cent of them since April this year. Just over 21 per cent of the population has been fully 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.

Coping with the costs of COVID-19

How are some Canadian operations dealing with the financial fallout of the pandemic?

Jimmy Staveris, manager of Dunn’s Famous restaurant scans the COVID-19 QR codes of customers in Montreal earlier this month as the Quebec government’s COVID-19 vaccine passport came into effect. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

COVID-19 and the regulations put in place to slow its transmission have put serious strain on businesses in Canada. For some business operators, there was no pivot to make, and they closed their doors for good. But for others, making a shift was an option worth exploring.

Here’s a look at how some people and businesses adapted amid a pandemic and a bruising economic environment.


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