Vegetable gardens are seen on the roofs of vehicles of a taxi rental garage firm, whose cars are currently out of service due to the downturn in business as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Bangkok.—AFP

A mass graveyard for Bangkok’s flamboyantly coloured cabs left idle and decaying by coronavirus curbs is coming to life with mini vegetable gardens and frog ponds set up to help feed out-of-work drivers. In an open-air parking lot in the west of the Thai capital, green shoots fed by monsoon rains sprout from the roofs and bonnets of row upon row of pink and orange taxis. Tiny green-brown frogs squat croaking in the tropical heat on makeshift ponds fashioned out of old tires, tucked in among the 200 or so abandoned cars.

The site is owned by Ratchapruk Taxi Garage, which has seen most of its drivers quit Bangkok for their home villages because fares have dried up following lockdown restrictions. “This is our last option,” Thapakorn Assawalertkun, one of the company owners, told AFP, saying many of the vehicles still had large loans outstanding on them. “We figured we’d grow vegetables and farm frogs on the roofs of these taxis.” Thailand imposed tough restrictions to deal with a deadly spike in Covid cases in recent months, including a night-time curfew.

Tourists, normally a mainstay of the Bangkok taxi trade, have dwindled to almost none because of draconian rules on entering the kingdom. The eggplants, chillies, cucumbers, courgettes and basil grown on the cars-along with the frogs-will help feed the out-of-work drivers and employees. And if crops are good, they plan to sell any surplus at local markets. “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, tires are flat. There’s nothing that could be done,” Thapakorn said. – AFP