Phuket tourist van drivers win reprieve against arrests

PHUKET: Local van drivers who shuttle tourists at hotels and resorts to and from the various piers around Phuket have won a reprieve from arrests during the ongoing crackdown on illegal drivers.

The news follows a collection of 60 drivers successfully appealing to Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada at Provincial Hall yesterday.

“All of us have already applied to the Phuket Land Transport Office [PLTO] to legally register our vans, but we are still being continually arrested and fined,” explained van driver Boonyarat Chuaykarnkaew.

“Each time one of us takes tourists to a pier in Phuket, police arrest us and fine us 2,000 baht for illegally operating a passenger vehicle,” Mr Boonyarat said.

“And the only reason our drivers are serving these tourists is because tour companies and hotels keep calling us and requesting our services,” he added.

PLTO Chief Terayout Prasertphol, present at yesterday’s meeting to hear the complaint, understood the drivers’ plight.

“We will issue a document to all van drivers who have applied to legally register their vehicles so they can present this permit to the police and not be fined for illegally operating a passenger vehicle,” he said.

“The permit will be valid until December 31,” Mr Terayout said.

Vice Governor Chamroen assured he would contact the police to request leniency against drivers who are in the process of becoming legal.

“We will contact to the police and ask them to not arrest drivers who have been issued this permit,” he said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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