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Beneath an all-fun exterior, Phuket has some deepening problems

Phuket Taxis Blockade Forces 'Shuttle Retreat'

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
LOCAL TAXIS blockaded a west-coast resort last night for about an hour in a dispute over a new shuttle bus service.

The manager of the resort agreed to talk to Phuketwan on condition of anonymity. Readers contacted the site last night to alert us to the blockade.

''We gave them what they wanted,'' the manager said today. ''We really had no choice. It was over a new shuttle service to Patong, and we had already tried to negotiate.''

Local taxi drivers called in other drivers from a neighboring beach to assist in making their blockade a bigger success.

It took place in one of Phuket's better-known beach destinations, where hillside property remains expensive and where the only real difficulty experienced by tourists is the lack of efficient, reasonably priced public transport.

Neighboring resorts and apartment blocks have also been pressured on occasions by the drivers.

The fare in a tuk-tuk or taxi from the resort where last night's blockade took place to Patong is 500 baht.

Blockades of the kind that disrupted traffic in and around the resort last night happen ''pretty well all over the place,'' the manager said.

He preferred to remain anonymous because of concerns about his staff, who have to pass by the local drivers on a daily basis going to and from work. He is also concerned about the future business of the resort.

''If a tourist does not have a car on Phuket, then you either have to stay in your resort or pay for tuk-tuks,'' he said.

''For the price of a fare from here to Patong, 500 baht, I could ride around practically all day in a taxi in Bangkok.''

He agreed that unless some solution to the existing extortionate fares problem was found, large numbers of tourists would eventually desert Phuket for other destinations.

''I had to go to tell the drivers last night that we were giving in,'' the manager said. ''We had to back down. We had no choice.

''Just about every resort has these kinds of problems,'' he added.

He said that he understood that shuttle buses from the FantaSea show in Kamala were tolerated because they had been in action for some years.

But the drivers have made it known they will not allow other shuttle services to pick up passengers ''in their territory.''

Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob has been involved in looking at potential solutions to transport crises involving tuk-tuks and airport taxis.

Provincial Hall was last week the destination for about 100 airport taxi drivers, protesting about the issuing of 30 new licences and airport rents that they say are excessive.

It is believed that problems with transport on Phuket are now also being raised at senior levels within the government in Bangkok.

Two incidents involving violence against tourists since Christmas have also intensified calls for changes.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Enough is enough.. When they break the law arrest them.. Simple.

Unless at some point someone starts to stand up to them, this only gets worse and the problem harder to deal with.

Posted by LivinLOS on January 26, 2010 10:05

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Aren't the laws that are meant to protect people in this type of situation?

If something like this happens in the west . . . I am sure their must be some kind of laws that stop this kind of behavior.

Posted by Tbs on January 26, 2010 10:14

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Another nail in the coffin.RIP

Posted by Lord Jim on January 26, 2010 10:20

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Who actually runs the law on this island ?
Just asking, as it seems the law has left the island and it shows. Can anyone give a qualified honest answer to this one, my overseas guests are asking as well ?

Posted by Graham on January 26, 2010 10:34

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Police are either unable or unwilling to enforce the law in these cases.

Posted by Local on January 26, 2010 13:17

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I saw this happening yesterday, tuk-tuk drivers taxi drivers etc... just blocking the front of the hotel.

The Taxi/Tuk Tuk situation is getting ridiculous, it's way out of hand now.

Posted by Benjie on January 26, 2010 13:35

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Phuket is killing the tourism by allowing this to happen.
Tourists will go somewhere else and spend their money.

Posted by Coyote on January 26, 2010 15:08

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It seems that those tuk-tuk, jetski and other thugs virtually hold Phuket to ransom. It's sheer piracy.

If Phuket doesn't get the problem under control NOW, it does not deserve any more tourists. Not even one. Period.

Posted by Karoshi on January 26, 2010 15:21

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All these years we have been wishing these problems away, but there appears to be no workable solution.

Pattaya, however, has a great baht bus system and many cheap motorbike taxis, so I will be going there from now on. Pity about the crappy beaches up there, but never mind, at least I can afford to get to them. Entertainment is much cheaper and plentiful there as well.

Farewell, Phuket . . .

Posted by Cambody on January 26, 2010 15:58

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somebody somewhere somehow has to stop this! tuk tuks/taxis have to be dealt with. tourists have had enough.

Personally I am going to vote with my wallet.

Posted by john on January 26, 2010 16:32

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just whay in-coming new arrivals need to hear, locals holding other locals to ransom.As one poster said this is a crime so arrest those on the day who were there and send out a message that resorts will not be blackmailed

Posted by william dale on January 26, 2010 17:20

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What are these guys thinking? Talk about killing the golden goose. Do they not realize people are not coming to Phuket anymore, because of their behaviour? Do they not realize that if they provided a good service, at a reasonable price, there would be enough work and income for everyone?

The only reason they have to fight for the tourist custom is because few people actually want to use their service. Preferring to either stay near their accommodation, rent a vehicle of some sort or go somewhere else.

Posted by Anonymous on January 26, 2010 17:50

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Are the taxi drivers in charge of this island?

Posted by Phlip on January 26, 2010 18:10

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5 1/2 years here ... I'm off and taking my family with me!

Posted by Sean on January 26, 2010 19:32

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In answer to the post by Graham, there is no law in Phuket. Anarchy rules.

Posted by Local on January 26, 2010 19:35

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The problem gets worse by the day, and still nothing changes.

Poor old Phuket.

Posted by Colin on January 26, 2010 20:12

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Pity the hotel "gave in", it will just make those people feel more invincible.

Posted by Antz Pantz on January 26, 2010 20:38

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I just took an aircon taxi in Singapore 11 km for Bt 230. How can Phuket justify the current Tuk Tuk and Airport Limo prices?

Posted by Anonymous on January 26, 2010 21:19

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All this harassment of tourists . . .
Shame shame shame on this place

Posted by Lord Jim on January 26, 2010 21:41

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Is anyone NOT aware that Pattaya has a baht bus system that works. Bear in mind it works over a smaller geographical area. It's pretty pointless banging on about it in articles about Phuket as it's NEVER going to change here.

Posted by Mister Ree on January 26, 2010 21:53

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this isn't a report - it's a rumor.
do we have any photos of this blockade?
were the police called?
this is not news.

soi dogs recently formed a blockade of my road demanding more dry rice at the end of every night. dogs from nearby sois were drafted in to add weight to the unspoken threat!!

Editor: another steve, a few thousand others on Phuket seem to think a blockade at a resort is news. Your sense of humor is as lame as a legless soi dog.

Posted by another steve on January 27, 2010 09:36

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i find it farcicle to say that you won't name the resort as the manager is worried about his staff.
whoever allegedly blockaded this resort knows which resort it was so who are you protecting?
report facts - not hearsay.

Editor: We communicated with four sources who either saw the blockade or have an involvement with the shuttle. That's not hearsay. The GM is the best judge of what's best for his staff.

Posted by another steve on January 27, 2010 15:01

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Does Phuket have a law to say the tuk tuks/taxis have a legal monopoly of transport services for tourists?

Or are they breaking the law and the local authority/police are doing sweet fa about it?

Posted by Billy on January 27, 2010 16:18

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Do you think any government employees ever read these comments/blogs? Or perhaps they are just used to this type of lawless action and think everyone complains too much. I've lived around the world, settled in Thailand, but now I'm really thinking I should have never left Guatemala. Such a shame, Thailand is a wonderful place, too bad about all the ***** running the show.

Editor: Some Thais with English skills read what the English press reports. But only a few. In terms of coverage of issues on Phuket, the local ***** is almost as much to blame as the local *****. The local media does not consider rip-offs and corruption involving tourists and expats worthy of space. Corruption gets no coverage. ***** or *****? Same same.

Posted by FedUpAsWell on January 27, 2010 16:46

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Tell us the resorts or are you too scared If it is true, report it as such. OR does the ***** control you too ?

Editor: Are we scared? No. Does the ***** control us? No. Is your comment thoughtless and hypocritical? Yes.

Posted by Graham on January 27, 2010 19:31

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Show on British television today. I know of five tourists who have changed holiday plans, many more will follow. The credit crunch has made us look ways to save money. Car hire is the way forward .....

Posted by bill tredy on January 30, 2010 16:06

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Why didn't the cops break up this blockade? Until the cops act to assert hotels' and safari tours' rights to run free shuttle buses, there's clearly no free market force.

This is a developing country with London prices on everything tourists see. How long before tour agents stop sending us tourists?

Posted by tired of the act on February 2, 2010 03:16

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The Cops? Do anything? LOL!

Posted by BOM on February 5, 2010 20:28

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Lets have real meter taxis and buses.
100 baht airport to Patong taxi/ 40 baht for bus, problem solved.

Editor: At 100 baht from the airport, your problem is solved. The taxi driver's problems, though, are just beginning.

Posted by Common Sense on February 7, 2010 13:36

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Actually, the authorities should be very concerned about the skyrocketing prices everywhere. Why? Because if the rest of the Thai-population outside Phuket get the same idea, they will not be in power for long!

Money can liberate the suppressed poor in this country, and we the farangs have the dough! Therefore, PAY, and smile. :)

Posted by BOM on February 8, 2010 14:40


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