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Phuket blockade wins tuk-tuk drivers reprieve from Russian operators

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who established a road blockade in Karon last night will take further action if a meeting at 2pm today does not resolve a dispute over Russian tour operators undercutting local prices, the Phuket Gazette was told.

Karon Kamnan Winai Chidchiew broke the news after about 100 tuk-tuk and taxi drivers blockaded the Karon beachfront road at about 10pm last night.

To drive their point home, the drivers staged the blockade right in front of the newly established Karon Police Station.

“Russian people have set up more than 100 tour counters throughout Kata-Karon. In addition to selling tour packages and offering tour guides, these counters offer car rental and laundry services. This is greatly affecting local people’s incomes,” Mr Winai told the Gazette.

The Russian tour counters have set their prices so low that local tuk-tuk drivers cannot compete, he explained.

“Worse, they are telling tourists not to use tuk-tuks or taxis in Kata and Karon. The tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Karon cannot take this anymore,” he said.

The blockade last night choked traffic along the busy beachfront road until Karon Police Deputy Superintendent Narong Laksanawimon agreed to enter talks with the protest representatives.

While talks ensued, the protestors agreed to open one lane to allow traffic to pass.

The blockade disbanded at about 11pm, but only after Lt Col Narong agreed to the protestors’ primary demand of closing all tour service counters operated by Russian tour companies in Kata-Karon until a long-term solution is reached.

The second demand made at the blockade was for a meeting to be held at 2pm today at the Kata-Karon Municipality offices with all relevant government department chiefs present so a long-term solution could be reached.

Among the people named to be present at the meeting were Muang District Chief, Phuket Immigration officers, Karon Police Superintendent Sirisak Wasairi, Kata-Karon Mayor Tawee Thongcham and other high-ranking local officials.

The protestors also asked for Russian embassy representatives to be present, such as the Russian honorary consul for Phuket, Soopakij Chearavanont.

Mr Winai expressed concern that a loophole in foreign worker regulations may have made the current confrontation possible.

“I have been told that some sections of the Alien Workers Act have been changed and this is now allowing foreigners to start working in areas that were previously reserved for Thais only,” he said.

Just over 10 years ago to the day, a blockade by Kata-Karon taxi and tuk-tuk drivers won the drivers first choice against local safari tour companies from depriving them of customers.

That blockade also took only one hour to achieve the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers’ goal of protecting their livelihoods.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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

Phuket

ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in Phuket are close to a “critical” low

Tanutam Thawan

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FILE PHOTO

Covid-19 patients in severe condition may have to been transferred from a government hospital in Phuket to a private hospital as the number of available hospital beds at public intensive care units in Phuket is close to a “critical” low, according to Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol.

There are 9 ICU rooms at the Vachira Phuket Hospital. 5 are being used for Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms while the other 4 rooms are for those with mild symptoms and are under observation before being moved to another bed.

“If the 9 rooms are full of severe symptom cases, that will be a big critical stage. We may need to transfer our patients to other provinces or private hospitals, which may involve additional costs.”

He says 50% of the Covid-19 patients in Phuket are asymptomatic while 30% have mild symptoms and 10% have severe symptoms. For most of those with severe symptoms, the virus has moved to their lungs and they are in need of special equipment, like ventilators, to help them breathe and Charlempong says those patients need to be under close observation.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive (cheaper for Phuket officials anyway).

The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… โ€œWe want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,โ€

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Tanutam Thawan

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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