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Taxi operators launch drive to boost fleet at Phuket Airport

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Taxi operators launch drive to boost fleet at Phuket Airport | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Three main taxi operators in Phuket have appealed to the provincial transportation committee to allow more vehicles to serve Phuket International Airport.

The news came at a meeting at the airport administrative office on Tuesday called by Phuket Airport Director Prathuang Sornkham.

Representing Airports of Thailand PLC (AOT), which operates Phuket’s key tourism portal, Director Prathuang joined Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada in hearing the appeal.

Also present were representatives of Phuket Mai Khao Company and Phuket Car Service (PCS) Cooperative, which both hold concessions to provide taxi services at the airport.

Phuket Mai Khao applied to add 40 limousines to its current fleet of 110 vehicles, while PCS, which currently operates 150 taxis plus 30 vans, asked for permission to introduce 65 metered taxis to their fleet.

PCS also asked to have their own counter inside the terminal, which would be dedicated to offering PCS metered taxi services. That request was denied. If the request for the extra 65 metered taxis were approved, the vehicles would have to operate from the existing metered taxi counter already in operation at the airport, the PCS representative was told.

However, much of the expansion of the airport taxi fleet centered around the third operator present at the meeting: Mook Andaman Business & Travel Co-operative Ltd.

Mook Andaman currently – and openly – provides taxi services at the airport despite not having a signed concession with AOT to do so. Its fleet of 136 vehicles maintains a taxi rank on the street in front of the airport, which serves passengers exiting the terminal when there are not enough Phuket Mai Khao or PCS vehicles to cater to demand.

Looking to bring his drivers in from the “cold” – and more likely to avoid the legal consequences of operating an illegal service – Mook Andaman President Songtham Mekmanee presented a list of 60 drivers for the committee to consider including in the current concessions held by the PCS and Phuket Mai Khao co-operatives.

The list of 60, which included details of each driver’s vehicle, was presented after the transportation committee last week agreed to review a list of only 50 candidates, of whom 25 would join the Phuket Mai Khao fleet and the other 25 would join PCS.

The extra 10 names were added “just in case”, Mr Songtham told the committee on Tuesday.

However, Mai Khao OrBorTor President Sarawut Srisakhukham examined the list and found that most of names of the drivers provided were unfamiliar to him.

“I know every single taxi driver who lives in the [Mai Khao] area, and most of the people on this list are not from around here,” Mr Sarawut said, adding that local residents would be given preference in any expansion of the airport taxi fleet.

The list was handed back to Mr Songtham so he could revise it.

“Only local drivers can be on the list,” he was told.

The move by the “big three” follows Phuket Taxi Meter (PTM) Service Co Ltd applying in June to have 30 more taxis join their fleet. PTM currently has 80 metered taxis serving the airport.

That request has yet to be approved.

However, Airport Director Prathuang said that the committee would consider the request by the three operators and look further into its viability.

“We need to review the facts presented,” he said.

The Gazette understands that Mr Prathuang has been given discretion in resolving local grievances at the airport. However, the appeal to allow more airport taxis follows AOT Deputy Director Pratheep Wichittho announcing just last month a freeze in the number of taxis serving Phuket Airport until at least June next year.

Speaking at an inspection tour at the airport, Mr Pratheep explained that the freeze will remain in place while plans for the allocation of business and services under the 5.7-billion-baht expansion project at the key tourism portal are finalized.

“We have hired a consultancy company to research and come up with a model for commercial activities at all [AOT] regional airports,” he said.

Until that research project is completed, no more taxis will be added to the existing fleets, he added.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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