Phuket taxis fined for yet another fight in front of customers

PHOTO: Phuket taxis fighting again as traditional taxi queues accuse ride-hailing apps of stealing customers. (via Expat Life in Thailand)

The battle between traditional taxis and ride-hailing app drivers seems to have reached a boiling point. Yet another fight between taxi drivers in front of customers took place in Phuket. It resulted in charges against both of the drivers and highlights the continuing problem Phuket and other tourist destinations in Thailand face with taxis.

This incident took place at a popular Kamala area nightlife hotspot where a queue of taxi drivers line up to pick up club-goers and bar patrons. A customer thought that the alleged 400 baht fare quoted by the traditional taxis waiting for customers was too high. They opted instead to use the Grab app to order a ride.

After the female driver picked them up and made a U-turn to leave, a local taxi driver and several of his friends blocked them from leaving. With the customer seated inside, they pummeled the car, leaving scratches and dents on the body.

The area is marked as off-limits for car ride-hailing apps to pick up customers allegedly for the safety and security of passengers. But many outraged people online dispute that logic and argue that it’s all about money, with private deals being made in what could be attributed as a taxi mafia.

The man who attacked the Grab driver’s car said she was breaking the rules and stealing customers from the other drivers. The Phuket Land Transport Office, and Phuket Provincial Police called the drivers of both taxis in for interrogation over the incident. The police chief told the Phuket Express that both drivers were punished for the incident. Both were given a fine and had their license suspended for one month.

“One taxi driver, Ms Naruemon, was fined 2,000 baht for using an unlicensed application. The application she used can only be serviced in certain areas of Phuket but not for Kamala and not this particular venue. Her driving license is being suspended for 30 days. As for the local taxi driver, Wilart, his driving license is being suspended for 30 days too. Wilart agreed to pay 5,000 baht for the damage to Naruemon’s car that he admitted to doing.”

The situation with Phuket taxis has been under a microscope recently after accusations of taxi mafias, bad behaviour by drivers, and several outright brawls between cab drivers in front of tourists have blemished the reputation of Thailand and Phuket in particular.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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