Notes From Hairenik

I read an interesting story this morning about taxi drivers protesting the new rules imposed upon them by the Armenian government. Basically all taxi drivers would be required to install electronic mileage meters, pay an annual fee of 200,000 dram to the government, and forbid taxi drivers to operate vehicles more than 10 years old. The rules go into effect on August 1. 

These rules, which I personally welcome, will result in fewer taxis on the road that lurk everywhere, and will also increase safety on the roads as I would say nearly all of the private taxis being driven should not be allowed to take on passengers. Most private taxi drivers indeed operate vehicles that are well over 10 years old, such as Volgas, Ladas, and Opels. I would have to say that the majority of such cars have faulty exhaust systems, thus generously contributing to noise pollution, and have been involved in collisions at some point. Why anyone would consider getting into one of these taxis is beyond me, a few of which are literally held together with rope and glue. I have sat in such taxis which reside on taxi corners throughout the city and the experience is frightening. Not only are the drivers barely able to operate the vehicles, some having flawed manual transmissions (all Russian cars are manual), most such taxis simply do not function properly, especially those with shoddy natural gas hook-ups. Since everyone is in a hurry to go nowhere, decrepit jalopies are bound to get hit at some point. 

There’s concern which I think is unfounded that drivers will be out of jobs, which is far from reality. There are plenty of legitimate taxi services out there with fairly new cars in their fleets and they are ever expanding, meaning that there is always a need for additional drivers. It is not as if old-car owners will lose much money either—there is always a demand for cars, and those that would be most willing to buy old Russian cars for instance live outside Yerevan in villages and small towns, since they are easy to repair and many know how to fix them in case they break down in the middle of nowhere. It may be safe to guess that someone will start a car recycling business and purchase old cars, albeit for a nominal fee, for scrap metal or send them across the border to nearby countries that may not have such age restrictions. I heard that Iran is always in demand for metals, so such an endeavor may be a lucrative undertaking.

But there is another factor to consider: apparently the 10-year expiration date applies to all vehicles, not just taxis, which will mean that more than half the cars on the road will be required to be decommissioned, including my car. I don’t know how much I will have to pay in “fines” to keep my car on the road every year but rumors will spread soon enough, if they haven’t already. It is unlikely that everyone with cars more than a decade old will start abandoning them. I suppose it’s high time that I consider buying a newer Niva (which may not necessarily be a good idea since newer models are apparently inferior), but I don’t know what I can do with my own if no one will apparently be able to purchase it, unless they are willing to pay the presumed fees associated with keeping it. Perhaps government authorities will turn a blind eye to people driving very old cars in villages at least, I don’t know. We’ll see soon enough.


Blogger Ara said...
If this new law covers all cars over 10 years, then it should not pass. So many people outside of Yerevan depend on cars that are over 10 years old to get around. I have never heard of such a law in any other country and don't think Armenia will be the first. What about classic cars?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
According to a news story printed yesterday the new rules that will be imposed on taxi drivers will not be in effect for another six months due to strong protests. Apparently dozens of private taxis parked their cars in front of the Government building in Republic Square for 2 days. Traffic police were powerless in controlling the situation.

Anonymous Zara said...
Yes, there are plenty of legitimate taxi services most of which want drivers with their own cars. Ok, let them forbid operation of vehicles more than 10 years old, but is it a solution to the problem? This law needs to be reconsidered meticulously, otherwise seems like another means to enrich some of the authorities and not improving living conditions of the public. And right are the drivers with their demand. Basically what the taxi drivers offer is: they are willing to hand in their cars for a small sum of money, but the government should undertake to providing the drivers with new cars the cost of which they will be able to cover within some 10-20 years.

Anonymous Anush said...
well it is partly too bad they prolonged imposing the new rules, i was really happy about the rule for taxis to have a counter.. would definitely spare a whole lot of nerves...

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
I'm told that the law will not apply to anyone other than taxi drivers although the 10-year rule seems a bit weird. i.e. it's possible to have a car in good condition older than 10-years and one that isn't which is less than 10.

Personally, I think this should be instead regulated through MOTs although they'd have to get corruption out of the system first. Anyway, on this story, I personally welcome the removal of all of these taxis as well.

Sure, it's a way for some to make a living, but that doesn't make the situation ok. Many of these cars are safety hazards for passengers and pedestrians alike. Besides, it's these guys that always try to rip me off with fares so maybe this is some kind of poetic justice.

I use the larger firms -- even those known to be owned by relatives of state officials -- because they have meters and I don't get ripped off.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that this law concerns taxis and not cars in general.