Drivers strike in protest of “black’ taxis
MAI KHAO: Limousine drivers at Phuket International Airport went on strike this morning to pressure the provincial government into controlling freelance “black” taxis. The limousine drivers said that over the past six months they had sent letters to everyone from Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, pleading with them to control the black taxis, which were taking so many passengers from them that they could not make a living – but to no avail. The 150 limousine drivers left their vehicles in the car park and assembled in a tent in front of the terminal. Witoon Thanakitkhajornkul, Secretary of the Phuket Limousine and Business Cooperative (PLBC), to which the drivers belong, said that in the past three months 80% of the drivers had been unable to even pay installments on their new cars. The PLBC is the only group with a concession to operate a taxi service at the airport. In talks this afternoon with Vice-Governor Pongpow Ketthong, the PLBC drivers pointed out that the cooperative pays more than a million baht a month to the airport, so its drivers should be the ones to ferry passengers from the airport. They said that they wanted black taxis barred from the airport car park entirely. V/Gov Pongpow said that he would have to check whether such a bar was legal. However, he agreed to have police on duty to stop the black taxis parking right in front of the arrivals hall. He added that it would take about seven days to consider the matter thoroughly.
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