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Phuket motorbike taxis hit over fares

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PHUKET: A motorbike taxi representative from Patong has railed against his fellow drivers, calling for “more ethical” behavior and cessation of the practice of gouging tourists for short journeys in the resort town.

The call came at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on November 28. At the meeting, designed to handle a multitude of issues concerning motorbike taxis, Chumpol Aiabsakul, who claimed to represent motorbike taxi drivers in Patong, highlighted the issue of drivers overcharging tourists.

“Some motorbike taxi drivers charge tourists 200 baht for trips that should not cost more than 80 baht,” said Mr Chumpol.

“Their behavior makes all of us look bad. I would like officials to use the law to get rid of drivers who do this.”

An officer from the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) explained that by law motorbike taxi drivers were to charge 25 baht for the first two kilometers of a journey and 5 baht per kilometer thereafter.

“For journeys exceeding five kilometers, the rate depends on the fare agreed by the passenger and the driver,” he explained.

Kan Chuchuay, of the informal ‘Saving Patong Motorbike Taxi Drivers Club’ in Patong, defended his drivers, despite their pricing being in violation of the law.

“Our drivers charge only 30 baht for the first kilometer and five baht for the next four kilometers. If the journey is longer than five kilometers, drivers and passengers would have to agree on the fare,” he said.

Another issue was tabled at the meeting by Cherng Talay Police Superintendent Col Chirasak Siamsak who said that his officers were experiencing problems with motorbikes with sidecars (saleng) being used as taxis.

“We are currently trying to control the number of saleng and not let drivers operate out of the immediate area. We have already had problems with saleng being stuck because they did not have the power to make it over the hills to Patong,” he said.

In order to better control the issues revolving around motorbike taxis, Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada gave Phuket’s three District Chiefs until December 13 to draw up a final list detailing the names and other information on all motorbike taxi drivers operating in their respective areas.

A tentative breakdown of the numbers was delivered at the meeting.

Phuket City Traffic Police chief Lt Col Narong Kittipongwiwat reported that his officers currently have on record 129 motorbike taxi ranks, comprising 1,037 registered motorbike taxis, operating in Phuket City.

Chalong Police reported that 113 motorbike taxis were in operation in Chalong, Rawai and Kata-Karon.

“But most of these are not registered as motorbike taxis; they are mostly private motorbikes being used as taxis,” the officer explained.

Maj Sarawut Chuprasit, chief of Kathu Traffic Police, reported that the Patong Motorbike Taxi Co-operative had 93 ranks in operation, served by 416 registered motorbike taxis.

Throughout the rest of the Kathu District there were 72 motorbike taxi stands with 655 registered motorbike taxis, he added.

Thalang Traffic Police reported having only two motorbike taxi ranks: one at Thalang Intersection and the other at the Heroines’ Monument.

“There are 13 motorbikes at the Thalang Intersection, of which seven are legal. At the Heroines’ Monument there 18 motorbikes, 12 of which are legal,” reported the Thalang Traffic Police chief.

Vice Governor Chamroen called on all present to reconvene on December 13.

“After that, the PLTO will set standard fares for motorbike taxis and devise a plan to regulate them [more seriously] in Phuket,” he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo

 

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