PHUKET: Phuket Deputy Governor Amnuay Rodkwan Yodrabham’s statement Friday, September 9, that Phuket taxi drivers “must do better” must be a contender for understatement of the year.
Vice Governor Amnuay delivered his message at a meeting of taxi drivers to ‘rehearse’ the rules and regulations governing taxi drivers, their behavior and operations.
This meeting took place in response to four tourists arriving from Phi Phi Island who were forced out of a taxi they had ordered through the Bolt app. Tourists were forced to take a ‘Ratsada VIP’ taxi operating at the pier as part of a concession – an act which saw the taxi group branded a ‘mafia’ in a slew of comments posted online.
If the taxi drivers didn’t notice, the Ratsada pier incident only happened because the tourists, young women from Israel, already knew they were booking a taxi through a phone app, and thus circumvented the “organized” drivers and their paying exclusivity. rights to passengers at specific locations through a “concession”.
Even Pol Col Pichetpong Jangklaikom, head of the Phuket-based Region 3 Tourist Police Branch, after conducting a very quick investigation into the incident, warned: “We have to be careful due to the use of social media. If there is an incident, there will be an effect.
This message obviously did not reach Adcha Buachan, head of the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), whose first public response to the incident was to threaten people using private cars as taxis with all the scope of the law.
Surprisingly, Mr Adcha did not seem to realize that his warning would also spread on social media, only furthering people’s understanding of exactly how Phuket taxi groups operate and who is protecting their interests.
The warning had absolutely no relation to the Ratsada Pier incident. Police and the PLTO itself confirmed that the van the Israeli tourists ordered was fully legally registered as a commercial passenger vehicle with “yellow and black” license plates.
Ironically, it was the taxi driver directly involved in the Ratsada Pier incident, Ekachai Decha, who has so far painted a very clear picture of the taxi cartels’ stranglehold on tourist access in Phuket. .
In Mr. Ekachai’s denial that the Ratsada Pier drivers were ‘mafia’, he simply said, ‘Why don’t you call airport taxi drivers ‘mafia’? It’s a 2,000 B fine for any taxi driver not belonging to this group who gets caught there. Yes, Mr. Ekachai, most people do; and yes, not all cartels in Phuket are the same and most do not work in alliance with each other.
Phuket Mai Khao Sakhu Co Ltd (PMK) and Phuket Limousine and Business Services Cooperative (PBC) are the two companies that have the right to operate taxis at Phuket International Airport under a concession with Airports of Thailand (AOT).
With AoT defined as a state-owned enterprise this week, despite trading shares on the stock exchange, this makes the Phuket airport taxi franchise a state-enforced monopoly. Period. Thus, senior land transport officials will even come down from Bangkok to protect the interests of taxi drivers. After all, why pay if there is no protection?
This model has been replicated across the island. As confirmed by Col Pichetpong with the “Ratsada VIP” concession, “The concession is fully legal and authorized under the regulations of the Bureau of Land Transport”. This means that all of these taxi franchises in Phuket are fully legal and state-enforced micro-monopolies.
What the money thieves and taxi cartels haven’t yet realized is that while they bury their heads in the sand, ordinary people make the decision for them, turn to apps such as Grab and Bolt to hire taxis, with Phuket’s taxi cartels losing their turf wars. Ordinary people are finally realizing what Phuket’s metered taxis have never been able to do.
However, Phuket Airport remains a bastion of the island’s power of taxi concessions, where arriving tourists have no choice but to walk to the main road outside to be picked up. load by Bolt or Grab drivers. Bolt and Grab are permitted at Suvarnabhumi Airport. There is no reason Phuket airport should be any different.
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