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All over Phuket, the old ways of the taxi ''mafia'' are disappearing

Army To End Airport Taxi 'Mafia'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
PHUKET: Meter taxis have been declared as the key to future travel on Phuket following an Army-led meeting yesterday that authorised major changes, breaking the power of the controlling ''taxi mafia'' at Phuket International Airport.

By September 1, all taxis using the airport must be legal, and all meter cabs around Phuket will be allowed to pick up and drop off there around the clock without restriction, ending years of control by taxi cartels.

No more taxi group concessions are on offer at the airport, the gathering at the Royal Thai Navy base at Cape Panwa ordained.

Orders to rationalise Phuket's taxi system were approved by the Army's top officer on Phuket, Major General Somchai Ponatong, after talks with Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtadav and officials from Airports of Thailand, which manages Phuket airport, and the Phuket Land Transport Department.

Among the edicts:

.. AoT has to manage all remaining green-plate taxis operating from the airport. [Pressure is becoming more intense for green-plate drivers, who charge extortionate set fares, to switch to meters.]

.. The AoT has to find space for 50 meter taxis and all of the island's meter taxis are to be permitted to access the airport around the clock.

.. Bidding for taxi concessions at the airport is over. From now on, the facility is accessible to all individual Phuket taxi drivers - provided they are legal.

.. Every taxi that intends to pick up passengers at the Phuket airport must register with the airport first.

.. The Army is finding a space for green-plate taxis near the airport where they can park while waiting to be called in for pickups, in order.

Giving Phuket International Airport a system similar to Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports in Bangkok is viewed as essential to Phuket's future.

At present on the holiday island, non-meter taxi drivers are able to band together and name their own figures for trips - as well as charging passengers for the empty return journey back to base.

Until Region 8 police and the Army mounted a purge of the taxi ''mafia'' in Kata-Karon in June, the island's taxi drivers held Phuket to ransom. Huge commissions still remain part of the problem.

Many Phuket entertainment venue and tour operators still pay drivers as much as 50 percent to bring business their way - an excessive and unwarranted fee that only promotes abuses and greed among drivers.

Experts in the travel industry say that the commissions place Phuket at a disadvantage compared to rival destinations where commissions, if they exist, are in the 10-15 percent range.

More combined police and Army raids on taxi drivers and the officials who support them are expected at any time. About 70 drivers arrested in Phuket's Kata-Karon district in the first series of raids appeared briefly at Phuket Provincial Court yesterday.

Their trials on offences relating to extortion and intimidation of tourists and resort managers are expected to commence before the end of the year.

Comments

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This almost sounds too good to be true. I hope it will last...

Posted by BeerChang on August 19, 2014 10:14

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This sounds fantastic. Hope also the Government will make random check on the meters. I suspect that the Taxi Drivers "Fix" them. I took a taxi from Airport to home and according to the rates per KM set by Government I should pay Baht 350 but the meter stopped at Baht 630.

Posted by Mj on August 19, 2014 11:33

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Somebody please wake me up, cause this must be a dream.

Posted by Nicke on August 19, 2014 11:36

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A Big smile from me :)

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on August 19, 2014 12:33

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Please stop with warning the baddies that they are going to be raided. Just get on and do it. The taxi drivers still get rude and threatning inside the secure areas of the airport. Did I report it, hell no, the army were standing there watching. Just because they have firearms on them and pistols too, does not make them very brave in tackling of crimes or intimidation.

Posted by Duncan B on August 19, 2014 13:12

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i see the KT taxi group still have all there stands in Kata

Posted by Michael on August 19, 2014 14:39

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This is good news if it works, but did they mention the meter will be changed to proper prices as before they said they would slash them by 50%. Is this still going to happen?

Also they said they would be raiding Patong last month and it still hasn't happened, more delays...

Posted by Tbs on August 19, 2014 15:05

Editor Comment:

Patience, tbs, patience.

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Lets hope this frees up some of the parking at the airport so bona fide travelers can find somewhere to park. In the past, the taxis have taken up almost every available space.

Posted by Phil on August 19, 2014 15:21

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All good news....

Thanks Phuketwan for keeping us updated, it's appreciated.....

Posted by Robert on August 19, 2014 17:12

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"i see the KT taxi group still have all there stands in Kata"
No, some are still there, but many are gone.

Posted by stevenl on August 19, 2014 17:25

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I arrived last Friday night from Singapore, the arrivals hall as usual packed out, just 5 Immigration desk open.
Pushed my way to left side, found the lady wearing a jacket, give her the forefinger and thumb rub and I'm fast tracked through the screened area with minimal delay.
Next hurdle the Meter Taxi, no problem, pay 100 baht, the cab arrives, the meter is already on 60 baht, out the airport gate now 65 baht. At my destination the charge is 345 baht.I give the driver 400 baht and he asked for a tip!
I took 100 back, found 45 baht in shrapnel and thanked him for a safe drive.
Welcome home.

Posted by Frequent Flyer on August 19, 2014 17:30

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We operate serviced apartments, and are often requested by our guests to pick them up from Phuket airport and v.v. as they are worried about the antics of the Phuket mafia mob. Can you pose this question of our cars continuing to pick our own guests up to the airport authorities?

Posted by Mike on August 19, 2014 18:57

Editor Comment:

Can't see any reason why people wouldn't be allowed to pick up as normal, as long as you're not impersonating a taxi.

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Are they still going to allow the unkempt touts blocking the entrance trying to lure you into their over-priced vehicles impersonating as taxis...real 3rd world rubbish the whole thing....reminds me of when I went to Myanmar 25 years ago

Posted by PhuketS on August 20, 2014 09:14

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@mike - i believe your pickup cars must have a yellow or green plate to be able to pickup guests at the airport if you are operating a serviced apartments.

Your best bet is to check with the land transportation office to be 100% sure.

I recently heard of drivers detained at the airport for being in private cars picking guests up so please beware.

Posted by Phuket Saviour on August 20, 2014 09:29

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"Can you pose this question of our cars continuing to pick our own guests up to the airport authorities?"

Since you are operating a transfer/taxi service, you are not allowed to do this, not in the past and not at present.

Posted by stevenl on August 20, 2014 11:29

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Lets see what happens with the Tuk Tuk mafia - or are they "untouchable" ??

Posted by Steve L. on August 20, 2014 12:09

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To Mike, picking up guests at the airport by Thai's with green or yellow plate taxi's or minivans has always been allowed. There are many good and legal transportation companies that do this so your guests do not have to deal the airportt transport games. The companies have clean shirt, attentive and polite drivers that will hold sign with your guests name on it.

If you as a farang are doing this then you are breaking the law and should be punished like the Taxi cartels. It is illegal. Sorry the law should be applied to all. This is a job reserved for Thai Nationals. If you need the names of some good companies just ask.

Posted by jiminkata on August 20, 2014 14:46

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Unbelieveble! No one ( among the Authorities ) says: METER ALL TAXIS!

Posted by James on August 20, 2014 17:22

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Mike - I own several small hotels by the airport. Like many other small hotels, we previously picked up our guests from the airport with our private, courtesy car.

However, that is no longer tolerated by the airport authorities and army checkpoint at the airport car-park exit. All guesthouses, hotels etc can only collect their guests in a green-plate car, even if the pick-up is free-of-charge.

The army is being very strict about this rule - there are no exceptions and drivers using private cars will be fined 2,000 baht on the first offence.

The only solution is to obtain a green-plate car, or arrange to collect your guests from outside the airport property.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on August 20, 2014 18:29

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well its the first step on a very long journey of education....lets hope the second step is not very far behind ...im optimistically pessimistic ...but everything is crossed

Posted by Anonymous on August 30, 2014 22:23

Editor Comment:

Well, that's better than being pessimistically optimistic. Isn't it?


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