Connect with us


Phuket in transport crisis: Taxis take tourism to the brink

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Despite a great deal of press coverage and international diplomatic pressure, altercations between foreign tourists and tuk-tuk drivers are increasing, both in frequency and severity. In one of the latest attacks, a German tourist in Patong was beaten close to death by a pack of gangsters who remain at large.

And a week ago today a Thai tour van driver was brutally beaten with an iron bar by six taxi thugs in Kamala who claim sole ownership of access rights to the Cape Sienna resort and all of its guests. That event and the subsequent smashing of the van’s windshield was witnessed by a horrified tour group already seated in the vehicle.

As is standard in almost all of the beatings by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers over the past several months, the attackers have not been arrested. But in the Kamala case, at least, the police say they have asked the attackers to call in at the station for a discussion as soon as possible, thereby signalling the urgency the enforcers attach to rectification of the crime.

Given this trend and the laxity so obvious in police ‘efforts’ to terminate it, growing numbers of Phuket residents and hospitality business owners are showing symptoms of despair, surmising that it’s only a matter of time before an attack goes beyond the delivery of crippling injuries and results in murder.

Forum comments and letters to the Phuket Gazette confirm widespread concern about the taxi cartels and speculate on the impact of their drivers’ attacks and the increasing use of road, port and resort blockades to fight turf wars.

They see the beatings and blockades as attacks not only against tourists and competing cartel groups, but also against the image and thus the substance of the island’s economy, with tourism being the first domino to fall.

And they express disgust with the drivers’ apparent immunity to justice.

At the recent quarterly meeting of Phuket’s honorary consuls with the Phuket Governor and other local leaders, the tactics used by the various transport syndicates once again became the most heated topic of discussion.

As pointed out – repeatedly – by German Honorary Consul Dirk Naumann, the current and continuing absence of safe and credible public transport in Phuket could easily spell the death of tourism.

That tuk-tuk and taxi drivers collude in their areas of influence is no longer a matter of debate. According to one diagnostician, there are three key indicators of collusion:

1. Uniform Prices: In Kata-Karon, syndicate leaders view the proposed posting of fixed “pricing guidelines” (read: self-set minimum fares) as a “step forward”.

2. Penalties for Turf Violation: The savage attack on an entrepreneur who attempted to start a bus service between Kata and Karon a decade ago, and the beating of the van driver in Kamala last week, define the beginning and current state of the violence.

3. Information Exchange: Checker games and whiskey drinking aren’t all that goes on in those little salas in front of all the resorts.

As there is not a single significant resort on Phuket that isn’t effectively held hostage by the cartels, one can only appeal to the police and other local authorities to abandon whatever relationships have enabled the current cartel model for public transport, and to help Phuket reclaim its once proud and coveted position as a great place to visit and live.


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 mins ago

Autopsy requested for young policeman with vaccine

Thailand2 hours ago

Despite corruption allegations, street lamp project continues in Samut Prakan

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Sandbox is GO, vaccine cocktails, US warning on Thai travel | June 23

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Best of2 hours ago

Top 5 Provinces to visit near Bangkok

Tourism3 hours ago

CCSA gives details on “Phuket Sandbox” and “Samui Plus” travel schemes

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Cities to visit in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Gap between AstraZeneca vaccines cut from 16 to 12 to 8 weeks

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Steakhouses in Bangkok

Best of3 hours ago

Top 5 Pubs in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: Daily death count hits record high; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

US is “unable” to provide Covid-19 vaccines to Americans who live overseas

Tourism6 hours ago

Sandbox could be revised, cancelled if Covid-19 outbreaks occur

Tourism7 hours ago

US Warns its citizens against traveling to Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Embassy of France in Thailand starts vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55+

Road deaths8 hours ago

Driver killed after truck crashes from bridge, explodes in Hat Yai

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8