Patong’s last illegal taxi stands torn down, raids move to Kalim
PHUKET: After tearing down 12 illegal taxi stands throughout Patong yesterday, officers moved to Kalim, at the northern end of Patong Beach, to tear down four illegal stands there.
The raids in Kalim, carried out by more than 100 officers from Phuket Police and Royal Thai Police Region 8 division, began at 10am as part of the Royal Thai Army’s purge of illegal taxis throughout the island.
“We called in officers from Region 8 to help us because we were afraid that local residents would argue with officers,” Lt Col Sutthichai Thianpho of the Patong Police told the Phuket Gazette.
“Kalim is a very tight-knit community with residents who have been living there for generations, so we thought they might cause a problem when we started to take down the taxi stands.”
Patong Police and officers from Patong Municipality encountered no resistance as they swept through the main party town areas to clear out 12 illegal taxi booths yesterday.
About 50 officers were involved in the tear-down, from 3pm to 8:30pm, and were led by Patong Police Deputy Superintendent Khunnadet Na Nongkhai, Lt Col Suttichai and Traffic Police Chief Ekkarat Plaiduang.
“No one was arrested during our operation yesterday, but police made copies of the drivers’ ID cards to be kept on record at the station,” explained Lt Col Khunnadet.
“We let the taxi drivers off with a warning, but if we find them working at an illegal stand in the future, we will arrest them.
“We want to banish Patong’s bad taxi image as it is a famous tourist destination. We also want to give back as much parking to the public as we can.”
After all taxi booths have been cleared, Patong Municipality will call together all taxi drivers to discuss mapping out new locations where legal taxi stands can be established, said Col Khunnadet.
“It will also be made clear that, from now on, taxi drivers should pick up passengers where ever they want. Taxi stands are not to be controlled by any certain group of drivers,” he said.
“Once we are able to establish a system that is fair for everyone, I hope that drivers will slash prices for customers.”
The 12 booths demolished yesterday were at the following locations: Klong Bangwat, Soi Eden (behind Phuket Graceland Resort and Spa), Merlin Beach Resort at Tri Trang Beach, Holiday Inn, Patong Electricity Authority, Hard Rock, three booths in front of Kasikornbank branch on Prachanukhro Road, two booths at Makro Patong, and another booth on Nanai Road.
— Saran Mitrarat
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