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Negotiators meet to work out a deal today: Cruise ship lines appear dissatisfied with Phuket taxi prices

Update: Phuket Standoff as Taxis Blockade Cruise Liner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
UPDATE

The Silver Spirit docked at 8am and two busloads of passengers headed from the Phuket deep sea port before taxi drivers began their blockade. After four hours, taxi drivers agreed in talks to settle for taking 250 of the passengers. However, the ship is due to sail at 2pm. Ninety percent of the passengers are Americans.

Original Report

ABOUT 180 local Phuket taxi drivers blockaded the entrance to Phuket's deep sea port today in the latest of a string of disputes involving cruise ships and the US Navy.

Passengers from a Silversea cruise ship, the Silver Spirit, were not being allowed in or out of the Phuket deep sea port, at Ao Makham on Phuket's east coast.

Phuket Vice Governor Nivit Aroonrat arrived at the deep sea port, along with police, and was attempting to negotiate a rapid settlement to the dispute.

Frequent blockades by local Phuket taxi drivers who perceive shuttle bus transport as a threat to their livelihoods have over the past 18 months blackened Phuket's name as an attractive, trouble-free holiday destination.

Today's blockade is likely to bring to a head the simmering issue of damaging Phuket blockades on cruise ships and the US Navy. Complaints have seldom brought a suitable reaction from Phuket authorities.

About 475 passengers on board the Silver Spirit were planning to use tour buses rather than local taxis to get to Phuket City and Patong, the leader of the local taxi drivers, Narong Kumbaan, told Phuketwan at the Phuket deep sea port today.

He said use of transport other than local taxis on Phuket represented a threat to the livelihoods of the local drivers. The drivers were asking 500 baht for a trip to Phuket City, 15 minutes away, and 1500 baht to Patong, 30 minutes away.

Taxi fares on Phuket are on par with taxi fares in developed countries, but often without insurance, service or suitably high standards inside vehicles.

US Navy vessels have continued to visit Phuket despite a string of blockades and broken promises from local authorities that the problem will be resolved.

Cruise ship lines have shown the same faith in local Phuket authorities to address the issue.

The blockades are the manifestation of Phuket's continuing ''public transport'' crisis.

Control of ''public transport'' largely rests in the hands of a growing number of legal and illegal taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who see a monopoly and high prices as an effortless way of earning a living.

A large number of ''taxis'' on Phuket are not officially registered as taxis. Whenever a new Phuket resort opens, local taxi drivers swiftly inform resort management that they intend to be the transport preference of the resort's guests.

In recent years, Phuket's Governors have failed to find a solution. In avoiding a confrontation, extortionate fares and standover tactics have flourished.

The Silver Spirit, launched in 2009, is regarded as one of the world's top 10 luxury cruise liners.
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Phuket Local Taxi Drivers Seek Deal at New Resort
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Phuket Has 4000 Illegal Taxis, Meeting Hears
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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It is not "the shuttle bus transport as a threat to their livelihoods", it is their greed, bad service, cheating of the customers, substandard security in their vehicles, driving under influence, driving style, the list is endless.
Actions like this show their real face.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on April 6, 2011 11:50

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What will it take.. Police should simply go, and anyone threatening or blockading need to be arrested and charged.

No one 'owes' anyone a living, they need to provide a service, at a fair price people will pay, and if someone wants to operate an alternative at a lower price, they are entirely within their rights to.

Posted by LivinLOS on April 6, 2011 11:51

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With the demise of the goose who lays the golden eggs, we'll soon be able to get back to the Phuket that brought us here in past years.

Posted by ssresident on April 6, 2011 11:55

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Hahaha! Here we go again...the never ending story.

Posted by Skip on April 6, 2011 12:00

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Please, let this stop!!!
Why can the authorities not take care of this? They (drivers) are threatening the livelihood of all working in the hospitality industry on the island. Extortion is a word what comes to mind, another is tanks....

Posted by Lucien on April 6, 2011 12:12

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1500 Baht to Patong. What a joke. I don't see why the police can't just arrest them all for causing a disturbance. The cruise companies are free to use whatever service they feel provides the best value, and an old tuk tuk for 1500 Baht is NOT good value. I saw 2 cruise ships in Patong Bay yesterday. The customers from those ships at least don't need to pay 1500 Baht to Patong.

Posted by Jame on April 6, 2011 12:19

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Seeing you update on the story, it seems that most passengers are missing out on the 'Phuket Experience' they were hoping for.
Being an ex-employee of high end cruiselines, I can only recommend the ships to go elsewhere, this way money does not go to those who not deserve it. They might even 'wake up', even though that seems unlikely...

Posted by Lucien on April 6, 2011 12:26

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As Thai Army said yesterday that they will not plan a "Coup-d'etat"; so they are free for other jobs and Phuket Governor should ask their help to control that irreducible local gangsters to accept "Metered Taxi" to close the saga.
All resident Thais and foreigner alike are P...off of their bad manners.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on April 6, 2011 12:27

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The reason why nothing gets done???...not hard to figure out...Their syndicate is very strong...could possibly involve certain police and politicians...which is probably why nobody from these areas challenges them...most any other town or country in the world would deal with this effectively....Not here!...Anyway, it doesn't matter anymore...let these idiots shoot themselves and the rest of Phuket

Posted by sky on April 6, 2011 12:50

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We would all like to see a stop to this and all the other endless scams and rip-offs. As much as all authority figures pay lip service to the problems the real solution lies within the people themselves. They are, through their own actions, effectively killing tourism. This I believe is a good idea - It'll ultimately get rid of the scams and rip offs and give nature a chance to recover.

I say let them continue their ways - they'll pay for it in the end when nobody comes here.

Posted by Graham on April 6, 2011 13:07

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Since this kind of situation is predictable and cruise ships arrival and departure times are known beforehand then police should be prepared and be there to ensure that these embarrassing blockades or standoffs do not occur ... no need for the police to wait ... do the proper thing ...enforce the law...maybe just wishful thinking ;-)

Posted by Bjarne on April 6, 2011 13:17

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I hope cruise liners and any type of ships that bring income to Phuket, not just in people but of buying food to stock up, never come here again.

I think Phuket needs to learn a very hard lesson, and the Police should be enforcing laws.

They are NOT above the law, but they have this perception that they are.

Oh well, at least it should be easier to buy a sun-bed on the beach....

Posted by Tbs on April 6, 2011 13:21

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What a Joke ! Who runs this Island ? as a regular visitor for years my decision is made. looking for a new destination where actually I am welcome and not just my money. Phuket is gone to far, way to far.

Posted by Oliver S. on April 6, 2011 14:34

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Who hit the self-destruct button?

Posted by Philip on April 6, 2011 14:39

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The self destruct button was originally hit by one of the Governors. Subsequent Governors just ensure the button is held down.
It is time the Police started enforcing law and order.

Posted by Phuket Kop on April 6, 2011 15:27

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quite safely say that this ship and others will start bypassing phuket once a new routing can be made. so many other destinations will welcome the cruise industry. mr vice governor. negotiating with thuggery? who will compensate the tour operators and families who now have lost their livliehood? the excursion officer and staff now are dealing with 475 complaints and will need to compensate those passengers. same story another day in the phuket tourism. definitely forwarding this article to a mate i know who is 20yrs plus excursion officer for major cruise line.

Posted by john s on April 6, 2011 15:33

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If the cruise ships or US navy are reading this board, PLEASE DO NOT COME TO PHUKET UNTIL YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR OWN TRANSPORT.

That is what most locals want you to do.

Posted by Lord Jim on April 6, 2011 16:39

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i really start to hate this people!
i am so sick of this storys and this poeple..i spend allready less in thailand because i dont want they get my money. how they can charge such a price?
its just like a movie...but the sad thing is...its true!

Posted by mike on April 6, 2011 18:21

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Silver Spirit and ships like her are luxury cruise vessels much travelled by those who can afford that kind of lifestyle. And then to be presented with a clapped out old tin can to travel to Patong in and be charged 1500 Baht for the privilige is risible.

I can only imagine that the reason the police don't enforce the law is because half of them are tuk-tuk drivers on their day off.

Posted by Xircal on April 6, 2011 18:44

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what idiots they are, will be years until ships come again, the ships that have already planned will still come but most of these ships do there planning two to three years in advance and phuket will be off the cruise ship schedules now this is already in the cruise ship trade magazines

Posted by Michael on April 6, 2011 19:04

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The police should be sued for dereliction of duty. They once again allowed a mob to deny freedom of movement of several hundred people.

I wonder how long this pathetic inaction by local authorities has to be tolerated before someone puts the foot down.

Who will be that "someone" ?

These kind of things are simply unimaginable where most of us come from but here in Phuket it's the modus operandi.

I sincerely hope that every Cruise Line operator and US Navy officials start voting with their f(l)eet and give Phuket a miss in the future.

Phuket does not deserve their business and loss of revenue is the ONLY reason for locals to change their behavior.

As long as the ships keep sailing in, this will NOT change.

I have ZERO faith in local authorities. Zip. Nada. I also know they don't give a damn what I think.

Posted by Chris on April 6, 2011 21:30

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Problem is the taxi drivers will see things as a victory and not learn. As far as I'm concerned they can sit in the sun and whistle. How dare people who have pre-booked tour buses actually use them!!!
Unfortunately the tail will never stop wagging the dog in Phuket.

Posted by Mister Ree on April 6, 2011 23:30

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Absolutely shameful that a relatively small group of thugs can consistently get away with destroying Phuket's image internationally - lock them all up!

Posted by Amazing Thailand on April 7, 2011 01:33

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I'm gonna buy a fleet of tuk tuks, if you can't beat em....

Posted by Pete on April 7, 2011 09:54

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Have you all noticed how the "Editor" has recently refrained from commenting on any posting, and the world has not fallen apart! How refreshing.......

Posted by dan on April 7, 2011 10:30

Editor Comment:

Perhaps the standard of comments has improved, Dan - until now.

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Another great piece of pr for Phuket. Why do the so called authorities do nothing about it ?? Come on Governor, take some action...that's what you are paid for...

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2011 11:07

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I am an employ of silver spirit. we called the police that never arrived. all M**** there. is a shame. no cruise ships should go there anymore. let them suffer.

Posted by ioooooo on April 7, 2011 12:02

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I tell all my customers to take a coloured METER taxi from the airport, as they never stop at tour offices, to kidnap my customers to more expensive hotels, to make commission, as do the grey ones.

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2011 13:07

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"Editor Comment:

Perhaps the standard of comments has improved, Dan - until now."

I knew it was too good to last........

Posted by dan on April 7, 2011 14:09

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The next thing will be that bars and restaurants blockade convenience shops and hotels blockade suppliers of cheaper accommodation.
Wouldn't that be great?

Posted by Hotel Owner in Patong on April 9, 2011 19:49

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I used to spend my winters away from Germany on Phuket, 5 yrs in a row. 6 months at a time, spending big $$$$. Each time things got worse, not just the ground transportation issue, and now I go elsewhere where it 's cheaper, friendlier and better. It's not in TH and I'm not going to regret if corrupt Thai tourism dies.

Posted by Former HKT resident on April 12, 2011 17:36

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Get rid of all the tuk-tuks. The drivers are bad, but the tuk-tuks are worse. Unsafe and slow, and a plain rollercoster downhill.

Posted by geek on April 16, 2011 03:25

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Any truth to the rumor that city administrators have their hand in the taxi service?

Posted by JJ on April 20, 2011 17:22

Editor Comment:

Highly unlikely to be any truth in any rumor.


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