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Taxi operators launch drive to boost fleet at Phuket Airport

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive. The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… β€œWe want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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We’re looking for a Video Editor/Production Assistant in Phuket

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The Thaiger is seeking a full time video editor and production assistant for a new project based in Phuket. The role is open to a Thai national but with great English skills as well. You will need to be able to work to deadlines with a crazy bunch of stressed out news hosts, guests and the rest of The Thaiger team.

You’ll also need a general knowledge of the Thai news cycle as the content will be largely centred around daily news and current affairs. Knowledge of social media, and especially YouTube, will be an advantage.

Prior work in the TV or video production industry would be a requirement; we couldn’t care less about your educational qualifications. The role would be Monday to Friday.

The work hours would be earlier in the day, probably starting around 7am. There may be some occasional travel to Bangkok involved as well. Salary would be between 30-40,000 baht per month, depending on experience with opportunities for bonuses. The initial contract would be for 3 months, renewable.

If you are interested, or know someone who could fit the job, send an email to THAIGER EDITOR at info@thethaiger.com

 

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