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Take me to your leader: Governor Maitree tries a tuk-tuk today

Changes Coming, Phuket Tuk-Tuk Drivers Told as Governor Visits Patong

Thursday, September 19, 2013
PHUKET: Governor Maitree Intrusud was told today by a group of Patong tuk-tuk drivers that the leader of their taxi rank collected 600 baht a day from each of 64 drivers.

Governor Maitree told drivers that his aim was ''to change the system, to find a new way''. ''There are too many tuk-tuks parked here,'' he said.

''We are planning to make it so that all tuk-tuks don't have to all park in the same area.''

It was not made clear to Governor Maitree today why the drivers paid so much of their daily income to the rank's leader.

Phuketwan later established that the leader of this Patong rank - opposite Jungceylon shopping mall, where many visitors come and go shopping or to Soi Bangla - is a man nicknamed Pong.

A number of sweeping reforms are planned to Phuket's much criticised taxi and tuk-tuk system, where a driver monopoly enables them to charge tourists excessively high fares.

Governor Maitree learned from drivers on his surprise visit today that drivers in the queue, opposite the Jungceylon mall in Rat-U-Tit 200 Pi, earned about 1200 baht a day in fares.

There were 64 tuk-tuks in the rank, the governor was told. ''Of the 1200 baht, 600 baht goes to the leader of the rank,'' the governor was told.

''Each driver has to pay his costs, including petrol and maintenance, from the remaining 600 baht.''

Governor Maitree asked what the fare was from the rank to Karon, the next beach south from Patong.

He was told the fare to Karon was 400 baht, whether there was a single passenger or four or five.

A trip from Patong to Central Festival Phuket, another shopping centre in Phuket City, would cost 450 baht, he was told.

A tourist who wanted to go a bit further to Old Phuket Town in the heart of Phuket City would pay 600 baht.

Governor Maitree, noted for doing his own research when changes are coming, also chatted to tourists and some massage parlor workers nearby.

The superintendent of Kathu Police Station, Colonel Jirapat Pochanapan, revealed the following arrests of illegal tuk-tuk and taxi drivers so far in the Phuket district, which takes in Patong:

January: 194
February: 100
March: 248
April: 73
May: 144
June: 158
July: 253
August: 191
September: 172

Fines range up to 2000 baht. Some Patong tuk-tuk drivers have been complaining about the lack of action against illegal tuk-tuks.

According to the colonel, there are 467 legal tuk-tuks and 53 illegal tuk-tuks in Patong.

Comments

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The tuktuk are not all bad. A few years ago when my mother visited I took her to Patong for a lovely meal and then could not find the car. We walked around and sure but not sure where I parked asked a tuk tuk to take us around the one way system explaining that we could not find our car. He and his lady (wife) took us around several times and no car. I asked how much and he said nothing, no money. I rang a friend and asked if cars are towed or stolen in Patong and she said no, so we asked another tuktuk (by chance he had a lady (wife) sitting with him to drive us around the one way and again when I offered to pay he said no. So no car, then we walked and I saw my car surrounded on three sides by parked tuktuks no wonder I did not see it. Anyway they all moved without an argument. Moral of the story, take a lady of maturity out with you, it can save you millions.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on September 19, 2013 19:17

Editor Comment:

No thinking person would argue that there aren't some extremely decent tuk-tuk drivers. Sorting the good from the bad is always going to be a key issue.

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...Khun Pong collects 600THB daily per driver, and, where, please, these money going further...?

Are Bad Guys and Good Guys not overlapping here? Or may be some Good Guys see a chance to become Bad Guys, if still not?

From arithmetics point of view it us completely clear, that fares can be slashed easily BY HALF - this will generate more demand for travel by taxi, and ultimately will lead to higher sales if the service by each driver.

In Europe it is called "mafia" and "racket" when someone's collects fees from taxi rank.

I learnt previously from PW that in Thailand it should not db called like this, because "mafia" ir very negatived word and can make a negative impact on tourism.

Posted by Sue on September 19, 2013 19:21

Editor Comment:

It's a monopoly, Sue, which in a capitalist world is worse than a ''mafia.'' In a ''mafia'' all gang members are committed to killings, torture and numerous other bad deeds. People who drive Phuket taxis and tuk-tuks don't share those kinds of aspirations. The world is misused all over the planet. A knitting group can be a ''mafia.'' So the word has no accurate meaning any more.
As Phuketwan has argued, the big rip-off is in charging a fare for going back to base that no passengers take. End that scam, and you have a reasonably priced system.

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"He was told the far to Karon was 400 baht, whether there was a single passenger or four or five"

Then he was lied too. Price goes up the more people, also later at night. On new years eve this rank was charging 1200B for that trip.

Posted by NomadJoe on September 19, 2013 19:46

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There is something very fishy about the willingness to hand over 600 baht each per day to 'Pong'. This is an astounding sum of money!

64 x 600 x 365 = 14 million baht/year.

'Pong' needs to be apprehended & asked to whom this money is distributed.

I am sure the tax department could be interested in their cut of such a sum.

Posted by Logic on September 19, 2013 20:28

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@logic
'Pong' has to pay the fees for the rent of the public spaces, where the Tuk Tuks can park, has to pay the 'standing around with wakie talkies' -'attendants', the 'insurance' need to be paid, ,,,,!
A lot of families will have some extra income from 'Pong'

Posted by Anonymous on September 19, 2013 22:08

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Slightly off topic, but illegal taxi's(?) outside Serenity Terraces on Chalong Bay, more than half a dozen taxi's, not a green plate or "badge" between them.

Where are the DSI?

Posted by John on September 19, 2013 22:47

Editor Comment:

Probably waiting for someone to complain at a Crime Crisis Centre, John. There are hundreds of illegal taxis all over Phuket. The issue is being death with methodically.

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None of which is taxed. A start for a new system would be to get the revenues into the Thai tax system. Everyone paying their way would be best for the country.

Posted by Duncan on September 20, 2013 00:19

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@Ed

Yes, you are, of course, right, that prices can be slashed by half by de-regulating the pick-up place - to make it available any tuk-tuk/taxi , licensed at Phuket, to pick up anywhere in the province.

But of course arithmeticaly it is the "2nd TIME HALF" - "1st Time Half" is deducted by Khun Pong.

Then "The 2nd Time Half" can be substracted from the remainder.

And here we are at or almost at Bangkok prices of metered taximeters.

Posted by Sue on September 20, 2013 01:13

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All this discussion about "legal" and "illegal" tuktuks will end in the way it does often in Thailand, they will all be legalised because this is the easiest way and makes the least confrontation and most convenient for everybody. Concerning the information about income from drivers and "fees" paid will the governor now inform the revenue department so that it is secured that appropriate taxes are paid of these incomes ?

Posted by Sailor on September 20, 2013 09:52

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Wondering what the fees that taxis are forced to pay at the airport are? Legal and non legal fees...? Just an idea for the governor, next time you want the real tuk tuk prices, tag along with a foreigner(without a group of politicians and police) and see what happens. I'll take you, even!!

Posted by 9YearsInTH on September 20, 2013 13:47

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Pong probably collects the daily rental fee from the drivers. They don't own the tuk-tuks, they rent them by the day.

Posted by GiantFan on September 20, 2013 21:38


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