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Taxi task force chief Paya Mamen greets Phuket honorary consuls today

New Phuket Planned, Consuls Praise General

Sunday, June 8, 2014
PHUKET: Plans are ready for a low cost, public transport system around Patong that could be implemented immediately, a meeting to follow up on the success of the Phuket taxi task force in crushing the ''taxi mafia'' will be told tomorrow.*

The gathering at Phuket Provincial Hall will also hear how resorts and local councils can help to create a more efficient system immediately to replace the intimidation and extortion that was part of the old system, Phuket Land Transport Department specialist Jaturong Keawkasisaid told Phuketwan.

Monday's new approach will follow a historic and emotional moment today when Phuket honorary consuls turned out to thank Region 8 Police Commander Major General Panya Mamen and his task force for finally breaking the grip of the island's tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.

The retiring honorary consul for Germany, Dirk Naumann, said: ''General, I thank you because 12 years ago I told everybody that we must do something about the tuk-tuks and taxis, then I told people again 11 years ago, then 10 years ago, and nine years ago, and eight years ago, and seven years ago, and six years ago . . . and I will not go on . . . until today.

''And you sir, are first person to ever do something about the tuk-tuks and taxis and we the honorary consuls are extremely happy and glad that something happened and we hope it will continue to happen until this mafia is dead.''

His comments were greeted by a loud round of applause in the foyer at Phuket City Police Station.

Norwegian honorary consul Pornphan Sittichaivijit told the major general that she was a Phuket original so for her, there was added delight in seeing the problem finally addressed.

''Even the governor could not sort this out,'' she said. ''Hopefully you will continue to pursue this issue so that the taxi and tuk-tuk problem does not return again.''

Phuket had problems still at the airport and with the bad environment, ''black'' polluted water and jet-skis, she told Major General Panya.

Ireland's honorary consul, Helene Fallon-Wood, who once told an honorary consuls' meeting how she was abused and intimidated by taxi drivers when she went to a resort to pick up a friend, said: ''Isn't it amazing how quickly things can be done with the right person who wants to make Phuket viable for tourists and a good place for people to live.

''I hope it's a new beginning for Phuket.''

British honorary consul Martin Carpenter added that it was ''all good, a work in progress.''

''Nobody wants to stop anyone doing their job if they are doing their job the right way,'' he said. ''If we can encourage this, the transport should work well.''

Former Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham, who retired from the post in September, said: ''Hopefully this is not just the light at the end of the tunnel but the light will continue to grow. We have seen more progress in the past two weeks than in the previous 10 years.

''It's also worth noting the efforts of the Department of Special Investigation who all the time were working behind the scenes. We are very hopeful for 'the New Phuket.'

''A New Phuket is what we must create to win back European and high-end travellers, the people who have been driven away by the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. They will return if there are affordable taxis and where there is no abuse and assault or extortionate pricing.

''And if we have a situation on Phuket where Scandinavians and Europeans know the New Phuket is a pleasant destination and they know they are not going to be ripped off, then the TAT will have an easy task to promote the New Phuket.''

Estonian honorary consul Piyanoot Hongsyok told Phuketwan that Mr Naumann and Mr Cunningham deserved much credit for pursuing the tuk-tuk and taxi issue on Phuket down the years.

''They pushed very hard,'' she said, ''and we are grateful that the police have brought law enforcement and the right attitude to Phuket.''

She noted that there were still issues with the environment and with attacks on public land ''but if we can solve these problems, Phuket will again be wonderful and the best destination.''

About 30 staff from resorts around Phuket presented Major General Panya and his team with flowers. The major general said in response: ''We will do it. These people have damaged Thailand's reputation and we want to restore it, to the benefit of the country.

''I promise we will be doing that.''

Earlier, Phuket Land Transport Department specialist Jaturong Keawkasisaid told Phuketwan that planning was underway to replace the chaos of the local taxi system with something that was acceptable to all parties.

He said Monday's meeting with Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada would seek to develop a taxi system for the whole of Phuket, including call centres and metered cabs.

He said local councils would be asked to find spaces where tuk-tuks and taxis could park to be called to resorts when required, rather than have counters in the resorts.

Metered cabs from the airport should also be allowed to pick up customers for the return journey whenever they dropped off passengers from the airport, he said.

Resorts would be able to make sure the fares were paid in advance with other taxis so there were no disputes over rates of pay.

Officials from managers Airports of Thailand are understood to have been in touch with police to seek help in establishing a workable arrangement for Phuket International Airport.

A low-cost transport system around Patong's one-way loop is ready to go and only needs the approval of the new mayor and local council to be put in place immediately, with a fare of 20 baht as an example, specialist Khun Jaturong said.

Next week marks the one-year anniversary of a summit meeting of European ambassadors with Governor Maitree Intrusud on Phuket. There has been only one meeting with Phuket's honorary consuls in the 12 months since.

*The meeting is now being held on Tuesday at the Kata-Karon municipal offices at 4pm so the district's resorts can be invited to attend.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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What great news for phuket, like was said a long time coming now lets keep the boot on the neck of these crooks

Posted by scunner on June 8, 2014 17:31

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Well done! But as a yank, I really want to kick my officials in the seat of the pants. Did they actually do anything to help this process or did they stay on the sidelines chomping on popcorn? Ugh!!

Posted by Anonymous on June 8, 2014 18:16

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The metered taxi's are over priced and now its cheaper for me to pay a "limousine" taxi to get to my house than a metered taxi.
Metered Taxi's would work if their price was reasonable, but its still 4 or 5 times the price of Bangkok, and they run LPG which is 3 times cheaper than Petrol.
There is NO reason at all, why taxi's should be more expensive here than Bangkok, not one.

Posted by Tbs on June 8, 2014 18:18

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There is no doubt that Dirk and Larry were the pioneers of change: Thank you, to both of you brave people.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 8, 2014 18:21

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Interesting! The Honorary Consuls are (quite rightly), singing the praises of the military junta, whilst their 'masters' in Australia, UK, Germany etc are condemning them....

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 9, 2014 06:35

Editor Comment:

The Army had a small role in the crackdown, Simon. We didn't hear any honorary consul ''singing the praises of the military junta.'' The US, Australia and some European governments remain conditioned to formulaic reactions that give more strategic regional power to Russian and China. Nothing has changed in 50 years.

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Before anyone starts to say how well the job has been done I sugest you go to Rawai and look at the two worst gangs , the serenity gang are still there on private land with a new hut and the Rimley gang who also control the parking on the the road side are back with a new hut on private land . Last night I wanted to park but was told that it was for Rawai taxi s only !!!

Posted by Tony kenny on June 9, 2014 09:09

Editor Comment:

Have you called the major general, Tony?

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This is fantastic news for the Islands future. I hope it continues and then looks at other problems. Families and other tourists like to walk on Bangla road in the evenings and they are greeted by lines of touts trying to get them into ping pong shows. Its a disgrace.

Posted by sateeb on June 9, 2014 16:33

Editor Comment:

Phuket doesn't need the sex shows. But police have problems finding them. Perhaps soldiers would have better luck.

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They just announced the Queens Birthday Honours list in Australia and one person who should have been recognised for his efforts as Honourary Consul has missed out and that is Larry Cunningham. The Australian Government should be recognising his tireless and often thankless efforts looking after Australians on Phuket.

Posted by Arthur on June 9, 2014 22:43

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This needs to be be cleaned up.
Departed Phuket airport for Sydney - long queues at Thai Customs - not moving. I was then approached by Thai police - 50 baht for quick clearance. Tho whole airport staff were onto this - I paid the 50 baht in the new queue and went straight through [ Corruption at its finest!]

Posted by Lenny on June 29, 2014 17:33


Sunday September 15, 2019
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