Rental vehicle operators in mass protest

PATONG: Operators of vehicle rental businesses have staged a rally with more than 300 cars and large motorbikes to protest Patong Municipality’s plans to ban them from the beach road as part of the post-tsunami clean-up.

The operators, some of whom carried placards stating, “Better to have died in the tsunami than live with a dictatorial government”, demanded that, if the municipality banned them from renting vehicles along the shore, it find them somewhere else to operate from.

Their leader, Maitree Sanuangpon, told the rally today at the football field off the beach road, “If the government won’t allow us to park bikes in this area, it should buy the bikes from us. Then the operators will have enough money to be able to set up in business doing something else.”

Before the tsunami, the government was already considering a plan, commissioned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), for the re-development of Patong, which included banning the rental businesses from Thaveewong Rd. The damage caused by the tsunami hastened implementation of the plan.

But K.Maitree said that the operators have enough problems following the tsunami, without being banned from this part of Patong.

He said,”We have already sent our request to the Phuket Governor and the Patong Municipality but we haven’t seen any progress, and that’s why we have organised this protest.

“If the government cannot find a suitable area, then we will continue the protest until we reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

He added that the operators would like to be allowed to rent from seven points between the dolphin monument and the centre of Patong.

Phuket News

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