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New move to sort out Phuket's taxi problems

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PHUKET:Phuket authorities are planning to launch a new tough initiative to bring the island’s taxi and tuk-tuk problems under control, a draft of which will be announced “after the middle of this month”.

Monday 2 April 2012, 06:22PM


Phuket authorities are planning to launch a new tough initiative to bring the island’s taxi and tuk-tuk problems under control.

The initiative was announced in a meeting today (April 2) at Provincial Hall, at which Vice-Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada had discussions with relevant authorities to lay out the initiative, which will start with a crackdown on illegal “black plate” taxis.

A major part of the drive will be to persuade “influential people” – including local politicians – who are seen as helping taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to operate above the law with impunity.

V/G Chamroen suggested that the authorities should learn from their own experience of long years of trying to solve problems. Too often, he said, deadlines to achieve goals were not set.

He cited as an example a failed attempt last year to raise taxi standards in Kata and Karon and bring order to the transport business in that area.

Officials visited taxi ranks three times to survey the numbers of vehicles, and to promote what they saw as the benefits of drivers registering with authorities.

The plan went nowhere when local drivers simply ignored it, and it is now on hold indefinitely.

A Deputy Commander of Phuket Provincial Police, Col Peerayuth Karachedi, said the new policy would have to include enforcement of the law on local influential people operating their own illegal taxi businesses or backing local taxi drivers in return for political support.

In addition, the scheme would aim to get influential people to meet with and work with the authorities, something that does not currently happen.

It was not clear at the meeting how the policy will be used to solve taxi and tuk-tuk problems, but V/G Chamroen said that authorities would use force “only if necessary”.

Another element of the policy would be encouraging victims of violence or fraud at the hands of taxi drivers to report incidents to police.

The meeting heard that an unofficial survey by authorities of just four roads in Patong counted more than 900 taxis and tuk-tuks, while more than 350 legal vehicles are licenced to pick up passengers at the Phuket International Airport (PIA).

The number of unregistered taxis is vague.

At the meeting, the Director of PIA Prathuang Sornkham, announced that he would postpone a planned crackdown on black-plate taxis at the airport. That campaign began on March 13 with a two-week warning period.

The arrests were due to begin today, but Mr Prathuang said he wanted to see the effectiveness of the provincial campaign before beginning to round up illegal taxis at the airport.

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