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Phuket taxi call service to launch mid-July

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket taxi call service to launch mid-July | Thaiger

PHUKET: In the next step toward a more efficient and honest public transportation system in Phuket, officials plan to launch a call service for island taxis and tuk-tuks by mid-July.

“The first step was to pull down all of the illegal taxi stands in Patong. The next one is to plan how to organize all of the taxis that are already there,” Kathu District Chief Sayan Chanachaiwong told the Phuket Gazette this morning.

“Our goal is to set up a tuk-tuk and taxi call service for Patong, and launch it by July 15.”

All illegal taxi stands throughout the beach town were torn down last month (story here) as part of an Army-initiated purge of illegal, violent, abusive and cheating taxi drivers (story here).

Yesterday, more than 100 hotel representatives were present at a meeting spearheaded by Mr Sayan at Patong Municipality.

“We called in representatives from 120 Patong hotels to ask that they leave at least one space available where tuk-tuk or taxi drivers can park while on standby for customers’ calls under the new system,” said Mr Sayan.

“This will leave more parking spaces on the street for the public.”

After Mr Sayan proposed his ideas to officials and hotel representatives, a follow-up meeting was scheduled for July 9.

“Hotel owners will have time to think about the dedicated parking space idea. I asked for only one or two spaces from each of them,” said Mr Sayan.

“On Monday, we will call all of the hotels and ask how many spaces they have to offer. Then we will calculate the total and present the number in the meeting on Wednesday.”

Although unsure about the number of spaces that will be made available, Mr Sayan said he believed the hotels would cooperate.

“It seemed like most of the hotels were willing to spare a few spaces for taxis. However, in the case that a hotel cannot provide a spot, we will have them put up a sign that informs customers about the call service,” he said.

Mr Sayan said that officials would sort out all of the details for the new taxi system in the meeting next week, including where the taxis can drop off and pick up customers, where they are allowed to park while on standby and the final details of the call service.

Patong Traffic Police told officials in the meeting that they fully supported the plans for future taxi services in the party town. However, they added that there is still a lot to do before all the problems will be solved.

“Patong has about 400 tuk-tuks and 500 taxis. If all of the 120 hotels agree to provide two spaces for taxis, only about 240 parking spaces will be reserved. We still have to find somewhere for most of the vehicles to park,” Traffic Inspector Ekkarat Plaiduang told the Gazette today.

“Even though the illegal taxi stands have been pulled down, the problem has not yet been fully resolved. Drivers are still sitting by the road waiting for customers.”

Painting red and white stripes on the road, which prohibits parking, might be one option, he said.

“Creating more ‘no parking’ zones might be one way to prevent taxis from parking along the road. However, we will wait and see what Mr Sayan says at the meeting next week,” said Maj Ekkarat.

“We need a long-term solution to the taxi problem. Traffic police cannot do it on their own. We need the full support of the Patong Police and a commitment to enforce the laws for everyone, with no exceptions.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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

Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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