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Hundreds of taxi drivers gather at Government House to present demands

Maya Taylor

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Hundreds of taxi drivers gather at Government House to present demands | Thaiger
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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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 11:37 am

    They do not like Grab because they cannot set the fare on the spot, which means they cannot charge a foreigner more.
    Plus there is record of a Grab request, which again limits their options to corrupt the fare.
    Such as refusing to switch on the meter.
    They cannot stop progress.

  2. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Whilst Grab and similar things are great innovations for consumers, the real story is that there are too many taxi drivers for the number of consumers, not just tourists, but skint Thais. The model of leasing a cab and living off a meagre return after the repayments collapses when there is no tourism, Grab or not.

  3. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Have to give Grab a try when/if I return. It’s always a hassle when the driver doesn’t use the meter. I had a driver offer to take me from Soi 8 to Soi 16 for 500THB then he dropped to 300 after I said it doesn’t cost the much to go to BKK. I took a taxi that used a meter and gave him 100. I walked by that 1st driver everday for 5 mos and would not give him any business.

  4. Avatar

    Anh Lam

    Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 12:09 am

    GPS unit keep honest drivers honest. The drivers that are against them not need to be in the business as there is more totheir intentions than being honest.. Bus and trucks and commercial vehicles are required to have them installed.. Are taxi’s not commwrcial vehicles as we?

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Alas for the Bangkok taxi drivers, the good old days of shining the seats of their trousers, in air con taxis, and ripping off tourists by not switching the meter on are gone.
    Rip offs by taxis is what makes Grab so attractive.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Protests

Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests | Thaiger
PHOTO: Demonstration attendance has been falling in the face of Covid-19, coups and crackdowns.

While protesters against the Thai government are continuing as they have for endless months, attendance is lessening in the face of crackdowns, coups and Covid-19. The throngs of 10,000 plus protesters, mostly energetic youth, that waved The Hunger Games 3 finger salute and demanded change in Thailand last summer have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.

The government isn’t in the clear yet though, as the protester’s calls to replace the current government, lessen the power of the Thai monarchy, and draw up a new constitution are still popular ideas. But a number of factors are causing protester size and vigour to wane.

The second wave of Covid in December quickly curbed the daily demonstrations for fear of spreading the virus. After that, the coup in Myanmar on February 1 has brought massive protests with international attention shifting to the growing humanitarian crisis just across the border. On top of the pandemic and the Burmese coup, the Thai government has taken a much more hardline approach to protesters in recent months.

Police began fighting back against mass demonstrations, dispersing crowds with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And after 2 years of leniency, the government has begun prosecuting people under the strict lèse-majesté laws, where offending the monarchy can carry harsh punishment including a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Anon Nampa, a human-rights lawyer, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student activist, have already been arrested under this law and held without bail. Arrests like these have been demoralising for the pro-democracy movement, and have scared away a lot of Thai protesters. Many have shifted focus to more immediate efforts to demand the release of the detained protest leaders.

Even with the crowds shrinking, the protests have already brought about change, bringing once unspeakable conversations into the national conversation, and keeping pressure on Thailand’s leaders. Opposition is growing, with efforts to push no-confidence votes and amendments to the constitution being constantly proposed and advocated.

SOURCE: The Economist

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor

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VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook - Krystal Bar in Thong Lor was the site of a Covid-19 Outbreak

A third Covid-19 wave surging through Thailand is spreading through entertainment centres, including high-end VIP clubs rumoured to be popular with elite government officials. 559 Covid-19 infections and 1 death were reported today and the outbreak, which began in bars and clubs in the Thong Lor area of Bangkok among other nightlife hotspots, is surging, reaching 20 provinces throughout Thailand. Outbreaks in Chon Buri, Pattaya, and Phuket have also been linked directly to evening entertainment venues, such as the dance music festival in Phuket last weekend that resulted in 10 infections. Now, evidence is emerging that the wave is spreading through Bangkok’s wealthy elite and government officials.

In Phuket, where 70% vaccination of residents has been a primary focus in order to re-open to desperately needed tourism, the new outbreak has brought bar closures and new restrictions. And it looks like Songkran celebrations across the country will be muted, if not cancelled.

With nightlife and hospitality workers being disproportionately affected by the third wave of Covid-19, many are airing their frustrations with the VIP elite class contributing to the outbreak, including a trending hashtag #CovidThonglor. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob was one of the first cabinet members to test positive for Covid-19, amid rumours that he had recently attended or been in proximity with someone who attended Krystal Club, an upscale entertainment business. Though he denies being there, the club is allegedly so popular among politicians and officials that it is often referred to by the nickname “Government House 2”. Nearly a third of cabinet ministers are now self-isolating for fear of Covid-19 exposure.

With 200,000 baht minimum spending limits, it’s a high-society hotspot that may be spreading Covid-19 from the rich VIP customers to the poor staff and everyone they come in contact with. Calls for government officials and other elites who attended VIP clubs like this to disclose their potentially embarrassing timelines have so far been mostly unheeded.

In Bangkok, hospitals and private medical facilities have been warning of a shortage of testing kits and Covid-ready hospital beds. Field hospitals have been erected to prepare as the outbreak expands with surging cases. Experts think the new outbreak may be contained in a month or two, but fear in Bangkok it may take much longer to recover.

SOURCE: SCMP

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