PHUKET: Airport limousine operators threatened to blockade Phuket International Airport yesterday after a “black” taxi driver allegedly beat a legitimate limousine operator to death on Saturday in front of the airport. A fight broke out between Kanisorn “Lert” Downchoowan, 35, the black taxi driver, and Chart Ketwongworachat, 58, the legitimate limousine operator, at around noon after the two argued over a customer. Kanisorn allegedly hit K. Chart several times with a length of wood. K. Chart was taken to Wachira Phuket Hospital where he died about an hour later. Kanisorn was arrested and was later released on bail. Following K. Chart’s death, 178 legal limousine operators and about 100 supporters gathered at the airport entrance to lobby Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi to accept four demands: – Black taxis and any other kind of unlicensed transport must be prohibited from entering the airport complex. – The police officers investigating black taxi operations must be changed. – The airport must employ more security guards. – A checkpoint must be set up at the airport’s entrance to catch black taxis. If the demands were not met, the group said, they would close down the road in front of the airport. After meeting representatives of the Phuket Limousine and Business Services Cooperative Ltd (PBC), Governor Pongpayome agreed to all the demands apart from removing the police investigators. Only Pol Maj Gen Kongpol Suwannaraks, Commander of the Phuket Provincial Police, could make that decision, he said. Late in the afternoon, the PBC came up with one more demand: that Suthara Huangsuwan be removed from his current position as director of the Airports Authority of Thailand (AAT), Phuket. The PBC, which has 71 members with 85 cars, pays just under 450,000 baht a month for its concession to carry passengers to and from the airport.
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