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Hundreds of taxi drivers gather at Government House to present demands

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Taxis on a busy Bangkok thoroughfare. PHOTO: Connor Williams on Unsplash

Hundreds of taxi drivers have held a rally outside Government House in Bangkok, calling for 6 key demands to be met. Around 500 drivers attended the rally yesterday, submitting a petition addressed to the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. It’s not the first time the strong taxi ‘union’ has banded together to push demands to improve their pay and conditions.

The gathering was led by Worapol Kaemkhunthod, chairman of the Association of Public Taxi Motorists, who says members are not happy with a draft bill that paves the way for private cars to be used in ride-hailing services. They are also calling on the government to extend the operational age of taxis from 9 to 12 years, and to abolish the requirement for drivers to fit GPS tracking devices.

The group was met by Suporn Atthawong, vice minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, who accepted their petition. He acknowledges the drivers’ concerns, saying competition from ride-hailing apps is a worry for them.

Apps like ‘Grab’, the increased efficiency and, usually, cheaper fare, have slowly eroded into the traditional taxi business model.

Drivers are also calling on the government to provide them with some form of income protection by regulating the price of fuel and capping interest on taxi-related loans. They also want a reduction in insurance to match that of private vehicles.

The Ministry of Transport has addressed some of the concerns, reassuring drivers that GPS tracking devices will not be mandatory. A spokesman says drivers will merely be asked to install them voluntarily, for safety reasons. Meanwhile, Suporn says officials are also discussing car-financing options with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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