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Power-mongering turns ugly as rift divides Phuket taxi drivers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Amid news of taxi ranks being torn down at Phuket west-coast beaches over the past week, the taxi co-operative at Central Festival Phuket shopping mall has split into opposing factions and its president has appealed for help to close the rift.

The co-operative was to serve as a model for taxi management in Phuket and was part of a push by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to clean up taxi “mafias” on the island (story here).

However, the president of the group, Prasit Songnam, filed a complaint at the Damrongtham Center at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday morning.

“The Taxi Andaman Phuket Limited Co-operative has separated into two groups, and the other side is trying to manage the co-operative themselves,” said Mr Prasit, who was elected president at the end of February (story here).

By winning the election, Mr Prasit ousted “Brother Pom” Sukkasem, the former president and founder of the co-operative. Mr Pom and his brother Sern Sukkasem were charged in September last year of extortion against taxi drivers in the group. Both men denied the charges (story here).

The current divide between the factions is so serious that government help is needed, Mr Prasit said.

Arguments have broken out as each side accuses the other of stealing customers, he added.

“Some of our members are not working now because they don’t want to have a problem with the other group.”

Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosuttirak had assigned Wichit Moo 5 village headman Anucha Eakwanit to ensure that the taxi queue was fairly managed, but his assistance was rejected by Mr Prasit’s group.

“We do not accept him, and need someone else,” Mr Prasit said.

Mr Anucha said he had asked both sides to attend a meeting on June 16, but attendance was poor.

“I think they do not like me,” Mr Anucha said.

“I would like to confirm that I have no connection to any drivers and am not benefitting from a relationship with any of them.

“I am trying to give justice for both groups, and I have no idea why they are against me.”

Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet accepted Mr Prasit’s complaint and promised to find a solution to the problem.

“Both groups are in trouble. I will call representatives from both to negotiate,” V/Gov Somkiet said.

The date for the meeting has yet to be set.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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

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