Rassada Pier cabs questioned over taxi mafia incident

PHOTO: Police questioned drivers involved in confrontation at Rassada Pier over taxi mafia. (via PR Phuket)

After a row involving tourists being blocked from using a van ride they ordered by an alleged “taxi mafia,” police have intervened to question the drivers and assess the claims. The confrontation took place at Rassada Pier in Phuket on Friday, with three female and one male tourist trapped in the middle.

The travellers had just returned from Koh Phi Phi around 10am and chose not to use the transportation from the stand at the pier, after they reportedly heard the word “mafia” used in connection with the taxis queued there.

After they boarded a van 50 metres away, which police now confirm was ordered through a ride-sharing mobile app, an enraged taxi driver stepped in front of the vehicle to block it and demanded that the passengers get out and take a pier taxi, which the startled tourists did.

The 37 year old man who blocked the young tourists said that he is not part of a taxi mafia, but part of an alliance of taxi drivers, the Ratsada VIP Group, with its seating area at the pier.

The Phuket Land Transport Office vowed to question the two drivers, particularly the one who stopped the van, noting that the man “made a threatening or intimidating manner that damages the image of tourism.” With the PLTO present, the two cabbies reported to the Phuket Police Station yesterday at 9.30am to discuss the incident.

A police report identified the van driver as a 45 year old man who confirmed that he got a booking to pick up the tourists via a mobile app. The app was not named. The driver who blocked his van had ranted against mobile apps saying they steal customers by offering lower fares that aren’t always legal.

He reportedly questioned the police as to whether the van using the mobile app had broken any laws or regulations in picking up the tourists. The PLTO confirmed that the van was licensed and registered to legally operate as a commercial passenger van.

The police and PLTO were most concerned with the claims of a taxi mafia operating now that the story has brought widespread attention to online users frequently discussing the term “mafia.” They also commented that if the angry taxi driver’s action of blocking the van was confirmed to be a legal offence, e.g., that it damaged the van driver and the reputation of Thailand and Phuket, he should face legal consequences including having his license suspended.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

Phuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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