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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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Transport

Phuket police confirm speed limit of bypass road after locals complain

The Thaiger

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Phuket police confirm speed limit of bypass road after locals complain | The Thaiger

Phuket police are confirming the island’s bypass road speed limit as 50 kilometres per hour. That is, despite years of back and forth between motorists and the law. The latest announcement comes after locals posted online copies of their speeding tickets, which showed the confirmed limit. The stretch of road, almost the only stretch of road where you could get a car up to 100 kph, has long been a speedway for cars, trucks and vans.

The reason they are complaining is due to the fact that they say they were under the impression that speeding tickets would only be given to those caught exceeding 100 kilometres per hour along the bypass. They say police have assured for years that this would be the case.

Phuket City Traffic Police Deputy Chief Rungrit Rattanaphakdee says that normally motorists are allowed to drive up to 80 kilometres per hour on municipality roads but the bypass road’s speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour.

“Although drivers of private cars and motorbikes can drive not over 80 kilometres per hour on municipality roads in accordance with the Road Traffic Act B.E. 2522, all drivers must follow the 50 kilometres per hour signs installed along the bypass road.”

But his interpretation of the law contradicts a statement in 2015 by former Phuket Highways Office Chief Samak Liedwonghat and Teerawat Liamsakun, who was Phuket City Police Chief at the time. Samak said back then, that the signs with a white background and red circle are advisory only. In other words, not mandatory. Teerawat also concurred with Samak, in 2015, by saying that the signs were advisory only but warned that drivers may have an accident if they don’t comply with the advisory speed limit on the signs.

“Actually, speed is limited by law on this road [the bypass road] to 80 kilometres per hour in tessabaan (municipal) areas and 90 kilometres per hour in other parts. Our speed cameras are set to detect vehicles going faster than 100. Anyone caught going faster than that risks receiving a speeding ticket in the mail.”

Now, Rungrit says the speed limit is mandatory but motorists would not be issued tickets by the speed cameras unless motorists’ speeds were higher than 100 kilometres per hour.

Locals say they are still confused as they say Rungrit didn’t respond as to why the motorists were being ticketed when travelling under 100 kilometres per hour as he maintains that fines are only given to those going over 100 kilometres per hour. The photos of the tickets showed most of those ticketed to be travelling at speeds of 90-99 kilometres per hour, which directly contradicts Rungrit’s new interpretation of the law.

“….So far we have had tickets issued only to the drivers who drove faster than 100 kilometres per hour.”

“The signs are there to remind drivers to drive carefully under the speed limit, as normally drivers drive very fast on the road, leading to accidents.”

“We are trying to use technology to charge drivers’ behaviour, so we use speed cameras and have tickets sent to their homes. As you can see, we never set up any checkpoint along the bypass road, except during the long holidays.”

To be clear, Rungrit says the bypass road speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour, but you may be ticketed if your speed exceeds 100 kilometres per hour. That is, despite locals receiving tickets for going 90-99 kilometres per hour.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Thailand

UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions

Caitlin Ashworth

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UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions | The Thaiger

UPDATE: Khaosod English removed a story on Covid-19 tests for those seeking visa extensions and replaced it with the article “Immigration backtracks on plan to require Covid-19 test for visa extensions.” They say the previous report sparked uproar among expats and immigration police spokesperson has since apologised for the misunderstanding.

Original article…

Confusion reigns today over whether Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions. While The Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are, indeed, now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits, even renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand. On the other hand, Phuket immigration deputy chief Nareuwat Putthawiro told The Phuket News that Covid-19 tests will not be required for visa extensions or work permit applications.

“We do not require any medical documents for an application to renew a visa, because there are few foreigners’ movements outside Phuket. Most of them live and work in Phuket, and have done so before the new wave of Covid-19… So they do not have to worry about it. Everything is still the same.”

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements for work permit applicants. But, on the other hand, Phuket immigration says they DO NOT require Covid-19 tests for work permit applicants.

“We have not received any notices about Covid-19 requirements for processing applications to renew visas. If we do receive any such orders, we will let the public know.”

It isn’t the first time there has been conflicting statements coming out of different officials, in different immigration offices on different days.

SOURCES: Phuket News| Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results

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Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

People arriving Phuket from the “highest risk” areas are required to take a swab test by the staff at emergency operation centres (EOC) or show the test result document endorsed by the EOC staff made within 72 hours of their arrival. The revised order is effective from now until January 31, according to the Phuket Governor.

Those people who are on a brief business trip to Phuket need to show certificates from their employers describing the reason and necessity of their trips. If they want to leave their accommodations, they have to make a request to the EOC and clearly explain the reason as well as the time and destination. Visitors are also asked to avoid going to the community areas to avoid crowded gatherings.

It is noted that the revised order by the governor has not been officially promoted by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department. However, all visitors are still asked to register online via the Mor Chana contact tracing application and via www.gophuget.com according to the order re-issued on Friday.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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