An open-air parking lot in Bangkok has become a gardeners’ paradise in an attempt to feed unemployed drivers during the coronavirus pandemic.
This collective cemetery is home to many of the city’s most flamboyantly colored taxis that have remained inactive since Thailand’s tourism decline in early 2020. Instead, the Ratchapruk Taxi Garage has taken matters into their own hands by growing vegetable gardens on the roofs of cars and frog breeding in piles of abandoned car tires.
Following severe lockdown restrictions in the Thai capital, the taxi cooperative has seen the majority of its drivers leave Bangkok and return to their home villages.
“This is our last option,” Thapakorn Assawalertkun, one of the company’s owners, told AFP, adding that many vehicles still had large loans outstanding on them.
“We thought we would grow vegetables and farm frogs on the roofs of those taxis.”
Eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and basil grown on cars – along with frogs – will help feed unemployed drivers and employees.
And if the crops are performing well, they plan to sell any excess in local markets.
âGrowing vegetables on rooftops won’t damage taxis, because most of them are already beyond repair. The engines are broken, the tires are flat. There is nothing to do, âexplains Thapakorn.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Thai tourism industry?
Thailand has imposed strict restrictions to deal with a deadly spike in COVID cases in recent months, including a nighttime curfew.
International tourists typically make up 11 to 12 percent of Thailand’s GDP. That number fell 83% in 2020 due to the strict entry requirements imposed on foreign arrivals during the pandemic.
In December 2020 alone, the country welcomed just over 6,000 foreign tourists, a drop of 99.8% from December 2019, when there were nearly 4 million visitors.
The Thai government estimates a loss of 100 billion Thai baht (over 2.6 billion euros) in the first quarter of 2020, and a loss of around 1.4 million jobs as a result of this crisis.
With the peak of COVID cases, initiatives like this one at the Ratchapruk Taxi Garage are key to helping the unemployed find food during this difficult time.
Watch the video above to learn more.