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Welcome . . . now walk: a Phuket airport ''black'' taxi raid goes awry

Phuket Tourists Trapped in 'Black Taxi' Airport Raid

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Updating News: Photo Album Above

TOURISTS fresh off their aircraft on Phuket today were caught up in a dramatic raid designed to clear ''black'' taxis from Phuket Airport.

As police hauled drivers from their cabs, their passengers, holidaymakers newly arrived on the island, were left to wonder what to do.

''We have paid for our taxi, our tours and our accommodation as part of the package,'' one angry woman on a dive holiday told Phuketwan. ''What do we do now?''

A driver told police: ''If you are going to arrest me, then please take care of my passengers.''

Two Russian men, a father and son, were in a worse predicament. They were in a taxi when their driver was hauled out . . . but nobody could speak Russian, so they did not understand what was happening.

Similar dilemmas were being caused as the number of arrested drivers grew quickly this morning.

One of the minivans pulled over was from Villa Royale. Another driver in a Mercedes-Benz van told Phuketwan he was working for the exclusive Amanpuri Resort and was at the airport to pick up VIP passengers.

With the first decade of the 21st century almost at an end, Thailand's most popular international tropical holiday destination still has no system for efficiently moving people around the island.

The ''black'' taxi industry is just one symptom of Phuket's need for a comprehensive public transport policy.

It is believed today's raid by police from Tachatchai Police Station, north of the airport, was ordered after tourists complained in Bangkok to the Tourism and Sport Ministry about ''black'' taxis.

The global economic downturn has intensified Phuket's tuk-tuk and taxi woes.

Instead of reducing the number of people working as legal and illegal taxi drivers, the prospect of claiming an easy share of Thailand's highest fares, considered to be a rip-off by many tourists, has enticed more to try their luck.

Without a sensible transport strategy, disputes between legal and illegal drivers and tourists and drivers are likely to continue to damage Phuket's prospects for a future as a sophisticated regional tourism hub.

It is not known whether the crackdown will include drivers who take tourists from the airport straight to a nearby tour and travel agent, where the newly arrived visitors are harassed into taking packages on offer, and the drivers take a commission.

Airport general manager Prathuang Somkhom said about 200 ''black'' taxis operated from the airport.
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Comments

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Why not just set up a checkpoint just outside the entrance and refuse entry to those known to be operating as 'black taxis' - they'll soon get the message.

Cut down on the dodgy mini buses as well trying to get commissions on accommodation. I was once told my destination was full - they didn't know where to go when I showed them my apartment key!!

Posted by Mister Ree on December 22, 2009 11:31

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"Prathuang Somkhom, Airport General Manager said: ''about 200 ''black'' taxis operated from the airport."
He should have added on: "200 ''black'' taxis operate from the airport and I tolerate it - or at least that they did tolerate it in the past!

Posted by Klaus on December 22, 2009 11:42

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Thai administration has always had the impressive manners of making raids at the worst times during peak tourism periods.

Why not starting all crackdowns during low season where it would be easier and not disturbing arriving tourists or those following the rules.

Do you think it is a good advertising for Thailand's image?
I do not think so.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on December 22, 2009 12:11

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People wake up! The eyes of the world are watching you and PHUKET. You want to kill tourism here, continue what you are doing.

Posted by Graham on December 22, 2009 12:37

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The General Manager and AOT should not have tolerate the black taxis in the first place!

He should also not tolerate that the departure information screen inside the domestic departure hall is out of order since months.

He should not tolerate that the is most of the time only one X-ray machine working or staffed at the domestic departure hall even there is a 30 meter line-up! (Most of the time one x-ray machine has a sign saying''out of order''

He should not tolerate that people are ripped off by parking fees where they always tray to overcharge people - especially non-Thais. When asking for a bill for 20 minutes parking and being charged 80 Baht you get simple pre-printed paper saying ''Baht 80'' without mentioning time parked at airport.

He should take care for the airport plane departure and arriving areas. Two weeks ago there was a Dog at the Runway!
He should use himself sometimes the rest-rooms to see the condition and cleanliness of them. Surly not international airport standard.

He should remove the touts INSIDE the security zone annoying guests with Taxi offers and offers of trips to Phi-Phi Island.

He should not tolerate that Airport Parking is mainly for airport staff and 'connected' people.

Dear General Manger of the Airport. I hope you understand what I am trying to communicate here.

Posted by KRR on December 22, 2009 17:35

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As pointed out elsewhee a lot of the 'black taxis' are used by expats who prefer trusted drives that don't rip them off to the present 'legal' options. Once again this speaks volumes about the chaotic transport system in Phuket.

I'd rather have a friendly Thai drive me safely in his own car than one of the surly options. Once again a parallel can be used with Pattaya in which a loose consortium of taxi drivers provide a superb service to and from the airport ( a distance of 120km) for B1000. Phuket really does itself no favours in this department

Posted by Mister Ree on December 22, 2009 17:44

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All Taxis legal or not are day light robbers.
Phuket, get some public transport and regulated meter taxis that use their meters.

Posted by JM Keynes on December 22, 2009 21:56

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At all those tour companies and similar businesses along the route from the airport to the tourist destinations at the west coast I can only always see the "official" airport limousines (green plates) and airport minivans stopping with the innocent tourists to try to get them buy overpriced tours, hotels and whatever! This actually crackdown of the black Taxis must be definitely being arranged from the "official" licensed scam Taxi Company with the green plates! By the way, have you ever recognised how reckless those guys drive, how often they cross red lights...Oh, dear, it's just a shame.
Phuket could be such a nice place without those people. They destroy the whole reputation of the Island and the honest, friendly Thai-people. The only solution to all of this is to call the Bangkok Central Government to take control.

Posted by Richaard on December 22, 2009 22:49

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It's time they had a decent bus service from the airport into the main city areas and, indeed, around the Phuket beaches. Cut down on the tuk tuks, they just clutter up the roads and kerbs.

Posted by Richard Shepherd of Perth on December 22, 2009 22:58

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Between leaving taxi passengers stranded and closing bars in Soi Bangla early, just to name two recent examples, it would appear the authorities in Phuket seem determined to undermine the tourist industry.

There are other recent examples which just make them look hapless.

Posted by Marty Braithwaite on December 23, 2009 07:12

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@Marty- the bars are not closing 'early' they were being closed ON TIME in the 'Entertainment Zone' as a VIP was on the island. Justice is blind and the more laisez faire flexible approach has returned

Posted by Mister Ree on December 23, 2009 09:40

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The current problems with the taxis, (as previously reported on this website), are having a detrimental effect upon the legitimate operations of hotels who collect their guests from the airport, or who take them to their next destination hotel.

Yesterday, the driver of my hotel was taking one of our guests from our hotel to their next destination at a hotel in Krabi. This transfer was prebooked and prepaid by the foreign tourist before they even arrived in Phuket, because they did not want to use a local taxi for all the obvious reasons.

Our driver was stopped by the Phuket highway police and his driving licence confiscated by them for 'operating an illegal taxi'.

We also encounter numerous problems when meeting our prebooked guests at the airport. Our driver also reports an increase in verbal abuse of tourists at the airport who refuse the services of the taxis, limousines and 'tour' buses.

How many more 'hints' do the authorities in Phuket need before they understand the message?

Tourists do not trust Phuket taxis and tuk-tuks.

Tourists are sick of the scams and corruption.

Tourists will not visit Phuket if this situation continues.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on December 23, 2009 10:00

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just look at naithon, they shot my friend peter who drove taxi, had no licence but he gave soo good prices! naithon-patong 450bath, now 900 I saw on the new fare board.... what will happen is that people will go to other places, that's a fact. These tuk-taxi drivers have no education, they don't and will never understand, so give up this discussion, they are drowning themselves and they don't realize it.

Posted by jojo on December 30, 2009 02:36

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Sorry but what exactly is a "black taxi"? Is it a taxi working independently and not part of the "coop" service currently operating at the airport?

If so,"black taxis" are exactly what's needed to provide competition to the monopoly that has a stranglehold on transportation from airport. Allow a free market system to operate and the price gouging will cease.

The current "concession" systems for all transportation and other tourist-based services (yes, the beach umbrellas, taxis, etc, etc) should be abolished immediately.

This concessions are nothing but officially-sanctioned scams and promote the negative image that Phuket has rightfully acquired.

Posted by Buster on January 3, 2010 09:00


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