…𝑭𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝑴𝒊𝒅𝒅𝒍𝒆 𝑬𝒂𝒔𝒕 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒌𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝑶𝒑𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝑻𝒂𝒙𝒊 𝑫𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝑩𝒉𝒖𝒕𝒂𝒏, 𝑪𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑪𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝑬𝒂𝒓𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑰𝒎𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒌-𝑳𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝑩𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆
By Sonam Deki
On the flip side, some taxi drivers earn monthly incomes that can rival those of individuals working in the Middle East. Many taxi drivers have voiced concerns about a decline in passengers, which they attribute to a significant portion of the population relocating abroad, ultimately impacting their earnings. However, it’s important to note that this assertion doesn’t apply generally to all taxi drivers. For the majority of them, this profession is seen as flexible, convenient, and financially rewarding. As one taxi driver aptly put it, “What truly matters is an individual’s dedication and hard work.”
Sangay Wangchuk, with over 4 years of driving experience, said, “While there has been a decline in passengers, diligent work can still yield earnings surpassing those in executive positions in the public service. A notable privilege of being a taxi driver is the autonomy-there’s no boss to answer to, and one can work as many hours as desired, taking a day off whenever it’s needed.”
Many individuals have forsaken their regular professions to pursue a career as a taxi driver.
Kuenga Dorji, who was formerly employed in a private firm, shared his thoughts, stating, “I find greater happiness in my role as a taxi driver compared to my previous job in a private company.”
“In my previous position,” he continued, “I could only manage to earn Nu. 20,000 by the end of the month. That amount was merely sufficient to clear the monthly expenses incurred on credit. However, as a taxi driver, the scenario is different. With diligent effort, I can earn the same amount in just 3 to 4 days.”
Amidst the challenging times faced by the taxi industry, there is a silver lining for some who see this career as a financially viable option. A notable trend has emerged as individuals who once pursued job opportunities abroad in the Middle East are now returning to Bhutan to embark on a career as taxi drivers.
Many are opting for this unconventional career path due to its potential for promising earnings. For some, the income they can earn as taxi drivers in Bhutan is comparable to what they were making while working in the Middle East.
Pema Dorji (Name changed), a taxi driver who recently returned from the Middle East, shared his insights on this emerging trend. “After spending numerous years working in the Middle East, where the earnings were good, I realized that I could establish a stable and promising career right here in Bhutan. Furthermore, a friend of mine, who is also a taxi driver, mentioned that the earnings in the Middle East were comparable to what taxi drivers can make here. Upon hearing this, I decided to resign from my job there and return home.” Work in the Middle East was strenuous and demanding, requiring long hours, whereas the work here is considerably more manageable,” he added.
While not everyone chooses to pursue taxi driving as their primary occupation, there are individuals who engage in it as a supplementary source of income. Kezang Wangdi, who is employed at a private company, emphasized, “Relying solely on one job is insufficient; driving a taxi serves as an excellent supplementary endeavor, allowing us to boost our earnings and meet additional financial needs.”
While the factors contributing to the decline in passenger numbers are diverse, it is evident that taxi driving provides an attractive option for some. As taxi driving continues to emerge as a promising alternative profession in Bhutan, the future holds the potential for it to become the preferred choice for those valuing the flexibility and autonomy of working from home over the Middle East, even when earnings are equally lucrative. This trend’s evolution and its impact on the country’s labor market remain intriguing areas and remains to be seen how this trend will further develop and impact the nation’s labor market.