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Governor backs GrabTaxi push into Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Governor backs GrabTaxi push into Phuket | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: GrabTaxi is preparing to push into Phuket, following the attempt of similar service provider Uber, which has sliced off a piece of the island’s taxi-service market since it arrived here in November last year (story here).

Unlike Uber, which was originally declared illegal by local government officers as they wrangled with exactly what the business model was (story here), the launch of GrabTaxi was tabled by Governor Nisit Jansomwong at a meeting on public transportation projects yesterday morning.

“Though Uber does provide a similar service, GrabTaxi drivers will be logged into the provincial system, allowing us to monitor and control the situation better,” Gov Nisit explained. “This service will provide more options for those needing to get around the island and will hopefully help to usher in a new era of convenient, reasonably priced public transportation.”

GrabTaxi, available for free download on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms, is the first and largest taxi app in the Philippines and Southeast Asia that enables passengers to book taxis with just a few taps on their smartphones, the company’s website explains.

“GrabTaxi aims to revamp the local taxi industry by introducing simple, cost effective, mobile-based technology to both the supply [driver] and demand [passenger] sides of the distribution chain. With this technology, GrabTaxi hopes to optimize the matching process between drivers and passengers.”

The company’s mission statement sidles up right next to those made by Uber Regional General Manager Mike Brown last year: “Uber is a technology company that connects riders and drivers to enable safe, convenient and affordable transport. Uber makes cities better by reducing congestion and improving transport availability and safety. Today, Uber operates in more than 220 cities across six continents.”

At the meeting yesterday, Gov Nisit justified the need for the GrabTaxi service as a number of countries’ ambassadors continued to demand a better understanding of what measures are being taken to sort out Phuket’s public transportation disgrace.

“I think now is the right time to manage the taxis on the island,” Gov Nisit said. “GrabTaxi will make it easier for people to catch rides.”

Gov Nisit insisted this did not mean that there would need to be any increase in the number of taxi drivers on the road.

“We just give the drivers already here the application to use,” Gov Nisit said. “The app will also allow passengers to report bad experiences with specific drivers.”

An educational seminar for legal taxi drivers – including metered and green-plate taxi drivers – will be held on July 14.

Though green-plate taxi drivers are invited to download the application, GrabTaxi’s website assures that all “drivers are trained to turn on the meter once the passenger is inside the taxi”.

GrabTaxi does charge a 25 baht booking fee in Bangkok. It has yet to be revealed if it will be the same in Phuket.

“We already have 57 applicants for the pilot project,” Gov Nisit added.

— Thanaphon Phromthong

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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