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Navy officers begin a month-long task force op at Phuket airport

Phuket Task Force Led by Royal Thai Navy Tackles Phuket Airport Taxi 'Mafia'

Monday, July 7, 2014
PHUKET: A task force of Royal Thai Navy marines, Phuket police and airport security staff descended on Phuket International Airport today intent on fixing problems created by the taxi ''mafia.''

A media release issued by the Navy said the task force would control the operations of taxis at the airport for the next month and resolve issues relating to taxis and the airport generally.

The green plate legal taxis would be reordered, the release said. Illegal ''black'' taxis would be removed, and the task force is also going to examine the shops at the airport to make sure all are legal and there is no corruption.

The action against the airport taxis follows a crackdown authorised by the National Council for Peace and Order, which is now in charge in Thailand.

For years, tourists have complained about the rip-off fares and the intimidating tactics of some taxi drivers.

Unscrupulous drivers gain commissions to taking passengers to wayside agencies where attempts are made to sell alternative accommodation and tours to the abduction victims.

Local politicians are blamed for much of the airport taxi problems, with the groups of drivers under the control of a handful of people.

Phuket Land Transport officials, who would like to see more meter taxis across Phuket and a sensible Bangkok-style queuing system, were not aware today of the task force airport operation.

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I wonder if they could expand this to include the airport immigration "express lane service" scheme on arrival?

Posted by john on July 7, 2014 12:05

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Happy :) But when they start to clean up Patong beach.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on July 7, 2014 12:20

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Good news! --- But there is more to fix!

Yesterday evening I did pick up a friend arriving on Emirates flight EK378 which landed at PM 19.40 hrs.
It took him until 21.55 hrs to clear immigration as only immigration 3 counters have been occupied and several international flight landed. Three (3) - my friend assumes immigration officials - did walk around the long line of waiting and frustrated tourists, including older people and small children, asking tourists for THB 1,000.- per person to help them through immigration. --- What a shame!

But more bad news will happen as this friend is a freelance travel writer and I guess this scam and unethical behavior by officials might be mentioned in European media....

Posted by Mr. K on July 7, 2014 12:40

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This is great news! Maybe now, bona fide travelers will be able to find a car space in the airport carpark. Perhaps the military will also clamp down on the maniacal mini-van drivers who seemed hell-bent on murdering or mutilating any driver who gets in their way.

Posted by Phil on July 7, 2014 13:13

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Will this have any effect on people taking or picking up friends?

Posted by sky on July 7, 2014 13:23

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@ Mr. K and Thai Navy
It is the right time to clean up the Phuket Immigration and move all Immigration Officers to other provinces and replace them by un-corrupt civil servants and ready to play by the rules.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 7, 2014 13:33

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And the exorbitant fares? No mention of bringing these down to reality, i note!

Posted by jimbo34 on July 7, 2014 14:30

Editor Comment:

In a hurry to get there, jimbo?

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I used the Airport Express Lane - which I had to pay 100 Baht - But I am very pleased it was there.

Posted by Tbs on July 7, 2014 15:06

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Does this mean I will be able to find a parking space for my car?

Posted by Anonymous on July 7, 2014 15:33

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Though there have been a lot of news and action about and around taxis, not once have I seen anyone even mention doing anything about the biggest problem of it all:

Extortionate fares

A taxi on Phuket easily costs 3 to 4 times more than in BKK. How is it possible this is being totally overlooked ?

Reorganizing the pecking order of who gets to rip off the tourists and when is of no benefit to the customers.

Posted by ThaiMike on July 7, 2014 16:18

Editor Comment:

Cutting the fares in half once the passenger-pays-for-return-to-base piracy disappears will help.

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I've been hearing more and more about the express line. I'm curious to know as to what the legality of it is - is it a formal and approved system or being made up as it goes along.

The standard fee seems to be B100, but other fees have been bandied about as well. If booths are deliberately being closed and people delayed to generate income this may be one for the DSI office in the airport if they are still there or have any interest.

In the current clime I would be surprised if Immigration officials have the cheek to be trying it on.

Posted by Mister Ree on July 7, 2014 20:39

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To those that complain about the price come on. Things have gone up since the 80's and people have a right to earn a living wage. Time you've driven to Patong and back from the airport, throw in gas, maintainance, cost of car and payment to AAT 600 Baht is fair enough. Phuket has a number of problems but one is that there are definitely too many cheap Charlies.

Posted by Mai Kee Nok on July 7, 2014 22:31

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@Mai kee nok, So why is it that the taxi fares in the rest of Thailand are at least half of those on Phuket? Example. Suvarnabhumi to Pattaya, between 1200 and 1400 baht, 90 min drive. Is it because Phuket taxi drivers are twice more greedy ?

Posted by Elizabeth on July 7, 2014 23:02

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Elizabeth - When I drive patong to airport and back in a mid-size car it costs me 300 Baht, that leaves 300 Baht for all the other things (should have read AOT) assuming he's not driving an LPG or diesel, probably 2 or 3 jobs a day, just work it out. Mind you if you thing that 60 minutes is half of 90 minutes maybe ask a friend to help with the math.

Posted by Mai Kee Nok on July 8, 2014 07:03

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Mai kee nok, it has never taken me 60 minutes to travel from Patong to the airport and remember from Suvarnabhumi airport to Pattaya it is a 3 hour round trip, for the taxi.

Posted by Laurie Howells on July 8, 2014 08:12

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Elizabeth & Laurie, I am not comparing it to Pattaya or anywhere else I am simply saying that by the time you have loaded your passenger and bags, driven to Patong passed through the traffic nightmare outside Tesco's, dropped your passenger off and driven back it will be close to 2 hours. Even if he gets 100 Baht per hour out of that for himself which I doubt he does, 600 Baht is not an unreasonable fare. Personally I wouldn't get out of bed for 600 Baht per hour and I doubt many of the complainers would either.

Posted by Mai Kee Nok on July 8, 2014 09:55

Editor Comment:

What about the concept of cutting the fare in half and having the taxi pick up another passenger in Patong, Mai Kee Nok? Is that so unreasonable?
If you wouldn't get out of bed for 600 baht an hour, you're either extremely lazy, living off inherited wealth or striking an unreal comparison between a skilled profession and the simple knack of being able to drive a car.

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mai kee nok: US$20/hour with no tax? Seriously? I guess not hungry enough.

Posted by bill on July 8, 2014 10:26

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There just seems to be disparity in taxi fares. Why is it that you can hire a taxi for almost the whole day for 1000 -1200 baht but a 5 minute tuk tuk costs 200 baht and a less than 1 hour trip to the airport about 700. I do realise that additional commissions may be received on top but that depends where you go.

Posted by Manowar on July 8, 2014 10:54

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Ed - That is a nice concept and not unreasonable but I was commenting on the here and now not some what could happen in the future. Any meter taxi guy collecting a passenger in Patong before the army turned up would have been crazy and I hate to say it but probably will again after they've gone.
Actually I'm a professional gambler (not whilst in Thailand) and it is just a simple knack of being able to read other people much like reading the road. I no longer believe that you have to have any professional skills to earn a lot of money, you only have to look at the salaries 'earned' by directors and top management of most of the loss making companies to see that.

Posted by Mai Kee Nok on July 8, 2014 10:56

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When I got a taxi about a week ago, the fare was 800 baht from the airport to Kathu - 200 Baht more than Mai Kee Nok's 600 Baht quote to go further to Patong

Posted by Harvey on July 9, 2014 20:09

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ED What's going on about the Thai navy taking you to court, have they chucked the case out.

Posted by Robert on August 13, 2014 22:41

Editor Comment:

The trial is set to continue next March, Robert.


Saturday October 25, 2014
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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