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Region 8 Police Commander Major General Panya Mamen, leading the action

Army, Police to Crunch Phuket Illegal Taxis

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Phuketwan 'Brave Enough to Change' Campaign

PHUKET: About 1000 soldiers, police and volunteers are to sweep across Phuket on Wednesday to arrest and detain more than 200 illegal taxi drivers, Region 8 Police Commander Major General Panya Mamen told Phuketwan today.

''We have arrest warrants for 110 drivers or companies and another 107 will face accusations of driving taxis illegally,'' he said. The huge operation appears to be the beginning of the end for illegal ''black'' taxis on Phuket.

Major General Panya said that tourists and residents on Phuket should not be surprised by what they see from the time the crackdown begins at 6am tomorrow.

''We also intend to look closely at the associated 'mafia' issues on Phuket,'' the major general said.

''I will be giving a media conference about this project and other objectives at 3pm tomorrow.''

The major general did not say where activities would be centred but most of Wednesday's action is likely to be at Phuket International Airport, at Patong on Phuket's holiday coast and in neighboring Karon.

''We will have the help of Tourist Police and immigration officers to explain to visitors that there is no cause for them to be alarmed,'' the major general said.

Some of the hundreds of soldiers being brought onto Phuket are already on the island and the rest are likely to arrive before dawn tomorrow. The soldiers are mostly from Royal Thai Army Region 4 in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

While the large-scale operation was probably conceived before the military coup in Thailand on May 22, it has been evident for years that taxi and tuk-tuk drivers on Phuket have too much power.

The drivers have triggered street blockades and boosted fares unilaterally to unacceptable levels.

The surprise involvement of the Army comes at the time of the year when tourist numbers are at a low ebb - a level perhaps even lower than usual for May-June because many tourists are unduly concerned about the coup.

Just days ago Phuketwan made a call for coup commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha to act to rectify some of Phuket's chronic issues and said the Army could fix problems that local administrations had been struggling to right for decades.

Comments

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I just cannot believe this is happening.
Nevertheless, the way it is advertised will make most drivers staying home and enjoying the day at the beach or elsewhere.
Hopefully it won't be a one-day operation.
By the way ,Ed, i'm not Peter french, sorry

Posted by Guy on June 3, 2014 14:27

Editor Comment:

someone using the same email has signed off twice as peter french, Guy/William.
Arrest warrants apply wherever the people named happen to be, home or work.

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Timing is not the best and may give the wrong impression, but this is really excellent news.

Posted by stevenl on June 3, 2014 14:34

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A laudable effort and most welcome but if efficiency was their main priority, surely the crackdown would have been kept a closely guarded secret instead of alerting everyone so only the dumbest will get caught.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 3, 2014 14:47

Editor Comment:

Much better not to have the whole island waking up and thinking there has been a politically-motivated invasion. Arrest warrants are not easy to escape. I'd leave it to the people who know what they're doing just this once, ThaiMike.

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Another "exercise". Well-publicised in advance, in the usual thai so-called "crackdown" style and in low season. As light hiccup, and then business as usual for the Mafioso in a few days/weeks.
And Ed - before you leap in with your usual witty put-downs - you called it well wrongly last time and you will no doubt do so again (and again).

Posted by phonus on June 3, 2014 14:52

Editor Comment:

I'm not right every time, phonus. But I am positive about change for the better being inevitable.

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If we had people on Phuket who know what they are doing, we would not have to struggle with the same problems for over a decade.

Yes, you have a point about the "invasion" but surely people would notice it being directed at taxis only.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 3, 2014 15:01

Editor Comment:

Better not to live in the past, ThaiMike. Ifs and buts are unimportant.

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Gooood

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on June 3, 2014 15:15

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The day, taxi and tuk-tuk drivers will accept fair competition with other modes of mass-transport such as public buses and metered taxis, tourists and Phuket residents will respect them straight away.

By the way, today, they look like gangs preying on powerless Phuket residents and tourists ready to use force to protect their illegal businesses.

All Phuketians, Thais and foreigners alike, want a modern air-conditioned bus transport system and all taxis and tuk-tuks equipped with meters which records the route and indicates the rate charged and the amount payable.

Phuketians do not complain loudly about lack of public mass-transportation; so tuk-tuk mafia cartels have free hand to grab all opportunities to grab as much money they can the way they want.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 3, 2014 15:42

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If they go ahead with the associatings, I am starting to be afraid, the new mayor of Patong may never see a needed quorum of councilers to state her policies.

Posted by Lena on June 3, 2014 15:47

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A superb idea in principle but more far effective to announce it after the event. Hopefully the taxi drivers do not have access to Phuketwan. I'm pretty sure Gen Prayuth is acting on his own initiative as well, as opposed to direction from Mr Ed.

Posted by Mister Ree on June 3, 2014 15:49

Editor Comment:

Go away, please.

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I have to make a new exception ... LONG LIVE THE ARMY!!!!! finally i see hope for phuket and its future. people think otherwise are pure ignorant. This is the one and only hope for phuket. some of u people speaking about democracy .. u really think its been a Democracy in thailand the last of many many years? suck a crap. who need that kind of Democracy if so? non. we need Action to solve Thailands problem and issues. this is one big step for tourists coming to phuket.. start with the illegal proceed with the fares from the legal.. give them all 10 hour to leave trough the bridge and apply Pattaya style 10 bath bus and business will widely spread on the whole island and not only to Bangla rd. then u can stop speak about how bad the bangla inviroment is as well cos tourist will have a change to go elsewhere on the island without getting RIPPED OFF from these Thughs stealing their money. carryig guns and using drugs. driving like crazy trough public and beating up inoccent olderly people.. well done ARMY . PS. i myself have a night venue business with musik and spirits on Bangla. i suffer same as everyone else but i support this 100% and hope and pray everyday that they dont lift the curfew or leave the country ti corrupt authorities before things are as they should... and i agree with thoose who say that if u cant survive this businesswise ur busniess are domed anyway... we all need to loose b4 we can win. AMEN

Posted by frog on June 3, 2014 15:50

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Well I'll be visiting Ao Yon over the weekend so I'll see how they've got on that side of the island.

Posted by phuket madness on June 3, 2014 15:58

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As Mr Morrison says to u guys dont know.. is a difference between a crackdown and arrest orders. if they attend to escape from arrest orders they gotta run. run like hell, coz they will not get away. and IF they get away they are far from phuket anyway so that problem is solved. its no corrupt police chief saying change are coming. it is the royal Thai Military .. u dont see the difference ? its huge. am with u Ed for once. and sorry again i dont hold my word hahah but this issue is to exciting ..

Posted by frog on June 3, 2014 15:58

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How is that a good news? The illegal taxi from my soi was the only way for me to avoid the extortionate fare asked by the legal taxi (from 1200 to 1500 thb, rawai to airport).

Posted by John on June 3, 2014 16:14

Editor Comment:

Look over your nose and your wallet, john.

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Alan, can you take care of your flock and not verbally bash them. I hope that deep down you like them as they are your readers. I noticed the Ed's comment were a less confrontational yesterday were you away?

Posted by Fiesty Farang on June 3, 2014 16:15

Editor Comment:

Go away, please, FF.

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Oh dear. And I had to promise my family I would go home in case there would be army deployed on Phuket and start patrolling here.

Posted by Jakub P. on June 3, 2014 16:26

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I was a regular on Phuket for 30 years. It was not so bad until about 5 years ago and from that time it has got exponentially worse.

The taxi drivers like the landlords and beach encroachers have just got a bit too greedy for their own good and with the greed came a more arrogant attitude due to their being plenty of tourists around. When it gets quiet the same people belly-ache when they are the reason the tourists have disappeared.

I've vowed never to set foot on Phuket again until the beaches are cleared of all the illegal structures. If that means never going back- so be it.

Posted by Arun Muruga on June 3, 2014 16:37

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Let's hope they visit the intercity bus station. The touts and taxi prices there are way over the top. A bus ride from BKK to Phuket 680 Baht. Once in Phuket a taxi ride to Kathu is 450 Baht for 8km, and 600 Baht + to Karon.

Posted by seht1912 on June 3, 2014 16:38

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I'm loving "Uncle" Prayuth ! Please let this be the beginning of the end for the corruption and extortion for the island.

Posted by jimbo34 on June 3, 2014 16:39

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Does every resort and hotel on the island need a taxi rank outside it's doors? These are also international brands that are providing employment to locals and investments into Thailand. Tourists don't like this behaviour.

Posted by irishkev24 on June 3, 2014 16:58

Editor Comment:

Every resort needs the capacity to call in cabs as they are required, and every cab needs to sign on for a call centre and a meter.

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(moderated)

Posted by phonus balonus on June 3, 2014 17:06

Editor Comment:

Goodbye, PB. Don't look back.

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THANK YOU

Posted by sky on June 3, 2014 19:52

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No cause for alarm I bet the tuk tuks are alarmed, this wont be lip service of the past 15 years this man is serious and a lot of public officials will be ducking for cover who are behind it.

Posted by slickmelb on June 3, 2014 20:16

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Well done! I hope this is the beginning of something good for the area!

Posted by Anonymous on June 3, 2014 20:47

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Without replacing or at least supplementing the current system with a 24 hr island wide, affordable, baht bus and or songteaws system, it is all a pointless show. Hopefully this is the first step to that end.

Posted by NomadJoe on June 4, 2014 01:22

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People complain when nothing is done and you complain when the right thing is being done. The people of this country deserve the right to fix problems in their own way and they seem to be. This is great news and I hope the Army is effective in finding and eliminating these parasites. Good for Thailand. I also hope the editor is successful in removing the doom and gloomers from this site. Lots of reasons to expect a better future for Phuket and Thailand.

Posted by Martin on June 4, 2014 02:53

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Great news and not just rhetoric the army will sort these crooks out once and for all

Posted by Scunner on June 4, 2014 05:12

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All I can say is I hope it's the start of a real campaign to clean up Phuket and make it the tourist mecca it should be.

Posted by Arthur Gane on June 4, 2014 08:28


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