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.
Labels: Social and Cultural