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Governor lays out strategy for war on “taxi mafia’

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Governor lays out strategy for war on “taxi mafia’ | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura has unveiled more plans for cleaning up taxi and tuk-tuk services and reducing the influence of the island’s “taxi mafia”.

The Governor said the number of “limousines” allowed to operate from Phuket International Airport should be limited to 50-60 vehicles. All should be Mercedes Benz cars, Toyota Camrys or Volvos, no more than five years old, and with engine capacities of at least 2 liters.

Three meter taxis at a time should be allowed to wait at the stand directly in front of the airport terminal; the rest should wait outside the airport and be summoned in by walkie-talkie only when there is an opening for them at the stand.

Gov Udomsak was speaking yesterday at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall with representatives of Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO), Phuket International Airport and Phuket Tourist Association.

He reiterated the importance of having more meter taxis in the province. Metering, he said, would help end the domination of the Phuket “taxi mafia”, which enables some drivers to claim areas of the island as their own private turf.

Gov Udomsak said, “In Kata-Karon, for example, the [tuk tuk] drivers say they have agreed a good system among themselves, which is fine, but the problem is that they won’t let anyone else onto their patch.

“They say they have worked everything out for themselves, and no one can operate in their area – yet, at the same time, they are taking fares to Phuket City, Patong, all over.”

Similarly, the Governor said, in Patong tuk tuk drivers had awarded themselves monopolies on operating outside certain hotels.

As things stood, said Gov Udomsak, registered taxis are effectively restricted to working to and from the airport.

“But if every taxi was metered, it could stop the territorial arguments,” he said.

He conceded that, even if all taxis were equipped with meters, this would not necessarily solve all problems, as some drivers might refuse to use the meters.

He took up a suggestion from the meeting that police checkpoints could check whether taxis had meters, and whether the drivers were using them.

Said Gov Udomsak, “I’m sure tourists would be happier using taxis if they knew the drivers would use their meters – because they would get into trouble with the police if they didn’t.”

The Governor, estimating that it will take around two years to clean up Phuket’s taxi services, said, “We must make sure that our taxis and limousines are operating to certain standards.

“We know that they are giving people cause for complaint, but at present they are getting away with it because people don’t complain about them – maybe because visitors are afraid of approaching the police.”

 

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