PHUKET: The Royal Thai Navy and Patong Police have teamed up to take down any illegal taxi drivers found operating in Phuket’s premier party town.
“We have arrested 13 illegal taxi and tuk-tuk drivers so far. There will be more to come,” Patong Police Traffic Inspector Ekkarat Plaiduang told the Phuket Gazette this morning.
“We made the first five arrests yesterday between 2pm and 4pm. Then, we started again at 7pm and arrested eight more illegal drivers.”
The drivers have been charged with operating an illegal public transportation service, the penalty for which is up to five years in prison, a fine of up to 100,000 baht, or both, confirmed Maj Ekkarat.
“Between September 1 and 7, we did our best to warn all illegal drivers about being arrested if they did not stop operating. We told them if they wanted to continue working, they must become legal,” said Maj Ekkarat.
“We posted signs, handed out leaflets and had vehicles with loud speakers driving around Patong to let everyone know that we were coming.”
Maj Ekkarat estimates that about 100 illegal taxis will be apprehended during the crackdown, but he did not specify any time frame for the operation.
The sweep on illegal taxis follows an order handed down by the National Council for Peace and Order, Maj Ekkarat noted.
“We let them run illegal businesses for too long. We gave them a chance to become legal, but they didn’t take it,” he said.
— Chutharat Plerin
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