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Patong motorbike taxi drivers get free helmets



PATONG, PHUKET: Hoping to improve both safety standards and their public image, scores of blue-vested motorbike taxi drivers on Saturday took part in a training project and received free safety helmets.

The initiative is part of a road safety and crime prevention campaign created by Kathu Police Superintendent Grissak Songmoonnark.

At 1 pm on Saturday, about 400 members of the Patong Motorbike Taxis Cooperative assembled on the grounds of Suwan Kiriwong Temple in Patong for the activities, which ended with a group ride along the streets of Patong.

The helmets were provided by life-insurance company Muang Thai Life Assurance.

Patong Motorbike Taxi Co-op committee member Somchai Niewnan said that the helmets were given to 100 specially screened members of the co-operative committed to offering safe services at fair prices.

“If the project goes well and there are fewer complaints from tourists, more helmets will be distributed within a year,” he said.

Mr Somchai encouraged any passenger who observes a helmeted driver engaging in careless driving to call him on his mobile phone at 080-520 3210.

Of the 928 members of the Patong Motorbike Taxis Cooperative, 537 are licensed, he said.

The Cooperative hopes to eventually get helmets for all its licensed members and to work with the Kathu Police in getting all unlicensed members registered.

There is also another co-operative in Patong, operating a total of 300 taxis, some of which are motorcycles. The group has their own standards and a committee, Mr Somchai said.

Pol Lt Col Jakkawat Buntawekulsawat, head of the Kathu Police traffic division, said Col Grissak’s project is aimed at lowering the number of road accidents, as well as crime.

As motorbike taxis are ubiquitous on the streets, they can help act as the eyes and ears of the Kathu Police, he said.

With project members all wearing the same helmet, those who break the rules will be easy to spot, he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo


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