Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


A tuk-tuk parked in Karon, where they take 80 percent of public spaces

Phuket Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Corruption Swoop Nets Kata Karon Mayor: Scores More to be Arrested

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
PHUKET: The Mayor of Kata-Karon, Tawee Tongcham, has been arrested over the taxi and tuk-tuk mayhem on Phuket, officers at Phuket Provincial Police headquarters confirmed today.

About 20 arrests have been made so far. Many others are expected.

The Army, police and volunteers were today executing more than 100 arrest warrants and swooping on miscreants named during the investigation by the Department of Special Investigation and Phuket authorities that began in August last year.

The suspects are being taken to the Crime Crisis Centre at Phuket City Police Station and viewed by witnesses via security cameras from the safety of Phuket Police Headquarters, which is just around the corner. Once identified, formal charges will be laid.

The mayor was among the first to be arrested.

Eighty percent of parking spaces on public roads in Kata-Karon have been taken over by tuk-tuks and taxis and the drivers have pushed to take over from tour operators.

Resorts in the Phuket west coast tourist district are blockaded at the first sign of a non-authorised pickup.

It was a year ago on June 3, 2013, that Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada chaired a meeting and pointedly asked the mayor: ''Are you brave enough to try to fix this problem here? Are you brave enough to change?''

The vice governor said that the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers were ''beating themselves.''

''You are eating fast but the meal will not last long,'' he added.

He said Phuket had all the laws it needed ''but we do not have law enforcement.''

He questioned whether the drivers cared about the feelings of tourists, the people on whom they depended for their income.

''You only seem to care about the money,'' he said. ''Taxi prices are high and the service is bad.''

He said he had just returned from three weeks in Europe. ''The fares are about the same here as they are there,'' he said. ''But the service there is much better.''

Solving the problems associated with tuk-tuks and taxis was Karon's number one issue, he said.

Similar problems in Chonburi had been fixed by the local authorities.

Karon was chosen in 2012 as the ideal place on Phuket to begin trials of a central call service for taxis so that the district's streets could be cleared. Drivers rejected the plan.

Soon after the meeting last year, Phuketwan dropped its ''Sweet Phuket Every Day'' motto and adopted the words of the vice governor, ''Brave Enough to Change.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Excellent, finally somebody in charge is serious about positive change.

Posted by stevenl on June 4, 2014 11:41


Great. It is fantastic to see that something is finally being done.
And being done correctly I might add.
Starting at the top is the only proven way to beat corruption.

Let's hope we don't get all the usual whingers knocking Thai officials.

Posted by Ben K on June 4, 2014 12:08


Your news is pretty quick and fast Great job PW.Please carry on.

Posted by JM on June 4, 2014 12:11


This is absolutely incredible. I did not expect this. Bravo.

Posted by fw on June 4, 2014 12:19


Hopefully Patong is next..great job ..I admittedly have been a doomsayer..but I am happy to be shown that I am wrong re' this issue...

Posted by sky on June 4, 2014 12:32


Am I dreaming? I hope I don't wake up.

Posted by Smithy on June 4, 2014 12:34


Great news. It's been a really unpleasant experience, trying to get a taxi/tuk tuk from Karon/Kata to go anywhere for a reasonable fare. Not just extortionate, but downright rude too.
Keep up the good work General! I salute you.

Posted by jimbo34 on June 4, 2014 12:34


I did a ride down Karon beach recently and counted the parking spaces occupied by taxi's. Of the total parking available, more than 80% was taken by taxi's and tuk tuks, many of the taxi's were illegal "black" taxi's, (identifiable as taxi's either because they are parked in "taxi/tuk tuk only spaces" or had a sign on them) and it is likely that several of the private vehicles in public spaces were also black taxi's, but it is impossible to tell.

None of these arrests matter if there isn't change. If the government can't both reign in the extortionate taxi prices that can be 5-10x that in Bangkok AND create 24 hour, hop-on hop-off bus or seang teaw type of transport throughout Phuket similar to Pattaya or Bangkok, it is pointless. I will even help them with their route planning:

Route 1: Kata-Karon-Patong
Route 2: Patong-Kalim-Kamala-Surin-Laguna
Route 3: Chalong-Rawai-Kata-Karon (Loop in both directions)
Route 4: Patong-Phuket town.
Route 5: Chalong-Central-Thalang-Airport

40B per trip and 'tilac rides for free.'

Posted by NomadJoe on June 4, 2014 13:48


I am quite skeptical what change on the ground it could bring..
First, "arrested" is not "jailed[basing on court's verdict]", it is merely a procedure step equivalent to "stopping on a street", for a purpose to service sound document etc.
Second, I wonder what law he could break, a current set-up of tuk tuks&taxis, and fares they charge , are perfectly legal : tuk tuks form a cooperative, they charge joining/maintenance voluntary fees, fares are on display and are not subject of administrative regulation; there is no law that would prohibit to park a tuk tuk on a regular parking etc.

Those incidents of hooliganism, when tuk tuk drivers block some hotel's entrance etc., surely are violation of law, but I wonder whether these arrest warrant are issued for these cases?

Posted by Sue on June 4, 2014 14:01

Editor Comment:

Why not wait and see? Is that too hard? Prefer that things don't change?


Best news I have heard from Phuket all year. I would normally be totally against any military takeover BUT even I have to admit it had got to the stage where the so called politicians were only interested in feathering there on nest. I really hope the military keeps up the great work and solves Thailands many problems.

Posted by arthur on June 4, 2014 14:23


only one word GREAT !

Posted by petermach on June 4, 2014 14:24


good, what about Patong ?

Posted by petermach on June 4, 2014 14:33


Good article PW. Glad to see that the DSI gets some credit for their efforts last year. I thought they were chasing a lost cause then. But now they have the support of a new system that will not tolerate the thuggery that has prevailed on the streets of Phuket for so long. It will be good to see some (or maybe all) of those yellow taxi only parking spots removed, especially on narrow & congested roads.

Posted by Logic on June 4, 2014 15:54


Patong then Surin. Let them also clear all the vendors

Posted by Anonymous on June 4, 2014 17:30


Being arrested, charged and imprisoned is a long winded process. Normally it all stops after "arrested" then the person is asked to "move on". So its a start in the right direction, but my dad is bigger than your dad so nothing will happen to me...

Posted by Tbs on June 4, 2014 19:02


Are Rawai ( taxi sala's on public land along beach road) and Naiharn ( taxi sala's on public land + the illegal restaurant at south side beach(!) also in the present 'fortfolio' clean up?

Posted by Crampy on June 6, 2014 08:50

Editor Comment:

Only if witnesses and people who have been victims take the trouble to complain.


One hopes this is a genuine attempt to clean up Phuket, not another sabre rattling exercise and things return to "normal" in a few months or after the coup. I ask, why has it taken a coup to get this done when Phuket's authorities already had the powers for change? What was/is missing for them not to perform their duties?

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 6, 2014 12:50

Editor Comment:

A Doomsayer to the bitter end, eh Laurie? Why can't you absorb what you read? Why don't you get attuned to the future, not the past?


Ed, can you explain how you know the future? Most of us can't. Never been a Doomsayer" only a realist, the "clean up" is in its early days, I prefer to wait before showering accolades upon anyone, history has shown how wrong early praise has been misplaced, this may not suit you, Ed or frog, but it is fact. As a Plaease, anyone, prove me wrong. As a "realist" Ed I ask you, what in my comment points to me being a "doomsayer"?

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 6, 2014 13:32

Editor Comment:

Here we are again, Laurie, wasting time trying to justify our coverage through your eyes instead of reporting the news. I have no interest in how you categorise yourself. Doomsayers are preoccupied with their own negative view of Phuket. You prove it with every comment.

Thursday June 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter