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Phuket's tuk-tuks, a problem industry in need of reform

Phuket Tuk-Tuk Attack: Tourist Victim Heads Home

Sunday, January 3, 2010
THE Frenchman who told Phuketwan exclusively how a tuk-tuk driver allegedly bashed his family is due to fly out of Thailand for home tomorrow.

Today ''Didier'' flew to Bangkok from Phuket in readiness for his return trip after a too-eventful holiday.

The case against the man accused of wielding a metal beach umbrella stump, breaking ''Didier's'' arm and injuring his wife and father in the scuffle over a car parking spot, is to proceed.

Lieutenant Chana Suttimas, of Chalong police, said today that the courts would issue a warrant tomorrow for the arrest of the prime suspect in the case, who has previously been named as Likit Teangtea.

Police had enough information in the statements from ''Didier'' and his family to proceed with the case without him being here, Lieutenant Chana said.

Police had previously been to Khun Likit's home to try to confirm his identity as the man who allegedly assaulted the French family. Khun Likit was not at home.

With the whole of Phuket enjoying the New Year break, the first opportunity for the court to issue an arrest warrant will be on Monday.

Back in July, Phuketwan telephoned the leader of the Karon-Kata tuk-tuk drivers. ''So you want to talk to me?'' the deep voice on the other end of the telephone said.

''Aren't you afraid of me? I am the tuk-tuk Mafia.''

He was joking, of course. The publication of the interview with Porntep Chamkawn that followed triggered a huge response across Phuket that has continued in the intervening six months with every article about tuk-tuks.

The Boxing Day beating at the Karon Administration public parking lot has unleashed more criticism of the tuk-tuk drivers, especially from Phuket's resident expats.

Since July, Khun Porntep, as head of the Kata-Karon Tuk-tuk Association, has introduced a number of reforms, including service training for drivers and a fare cut between Karon and Patong.

However, the attack on the tourist family is a setback to what might have eventually proved to be an improved impression of tuk-tuk drivers.

In good English, ''Didier'' told Phuketwan exclusively about the Boxing Day attack : ''It seems that the tuk-tuk or taxi driver came out of the little shed where all the drivers are sitting, and insulted us.

''He said we weren't allowed to park, it was reserved for the police.

''We said 'It's nonsense', because there was no sign. There were plenty of other cars. We actually left and were going to do some shopping.

''One specific gentleman, whom the police are investigating, came out with the bat as you can see there [pointing at the stump] the wooden and metal pole and went straight at me with all his strength and aimed at my head, trying obviously to kill me.

''I put my arm in front of me, so it broke my arm. My father jumped on him and got the bat away from him, so he went to get another one.

''He came back and tried to hit me again and missed me, he hit my wife and eventually my father disarmed him again, and he left and we left as well.

''As my arm was broken we called the police and we went to the hospital. It was operated on.

''I think this gentleman was under the influence of drugs. He did not look healthy at all. As I told you, I would prefer if our names were not mentioned.''

''Didier'' told Phuketwan he had visited Thailand many times to holiday with family members who live here, but he will not be returning after the violent encounter.

From now on, because of the assault, the Phuket family members will visit him in France.

More problems for tuk-tuk drivers on Phuket have arisen because of a dispute with one well-known resort company and tour operators.

The key appears to be that despite the economic gloom and tourists having less money to spend, the number of tuk-tuks has not decreased. Instead, more people have become drivers, meaning there is less money to share.

Phuketwan has said that reform of the island's tuk-tuk cartels needs to come as part of a complete review of Phuket's long-term transport needs. Ten years into the 21st century, the island deserves a proper public transport system.
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Comments

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Maybe it would be a good idea for Tuk tuk drivers to be random drug and breath tested to see if they are in a fit state to drive??

Posted by Mister Ree on January 3, 2010 20:01

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This is a monopoly. They fix the price and there is no competition that makes the price fair. The Tuk Tuk drivers claim that hotel or tour companies are taking their livelihood when in fact they would then have to only charge a fair price. but then its the greed that sets in.

Restaurants, Tour, Diving, Motorbike rental, Beer bars all live with fair pricing due to fair competition. No price fixing!!

Posted by David on January 3, 2010 22:40

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Editor,
Why can we say that the Tuk Tuk drivers (Jet Ski as well) are a group of locals that don't want outsiders in the business. Its a monolopy aimed at protecting and keeping the areas they lay claim too and thus the over charging is possible and the problems as well. Only the "Locals" are tolerated to set up stands for Tuk Tuk's on public areas around hotels, Beaches etc for their buisnesses. (Buy your own jet ski and try to launch it on any beach the locals are on) If these buisnesses were free enterprise (Instead of controlled by a few familys then the problems would stop too.Tender (Bid) a certian amount of licenses for these buisnesses for a limited amount of vehicles and the competition would keep the price fair.

Now rewrite that...

Editor: I think I understand what you mean and i hope readers do too . . . your comments and everybody else's comments are 'moderated' to avoid false accusations and libel. As you are online with a single-name identity, it's hardly fair for us to allow you to make claims that are unproven.

Posted by David on January 4, 2010 09:50

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Tuk-tuks have by force and intimidation taken control of every available parking space in Kata, Karon, Patong and even in Kata Noi where I went to pick up some visitors in a large hotel and was told that I could not park on the mostly empty street.

Extortion continues when a tourist is dropped off at a local business or small hotel and the driver comes back and demands his cut. We pay more, the hotels make less and the tuk-tuks win again.

What we need here is for the French Ambassador to Thailand to make an official complaint, or any other country like Australia or England will do, and to back it up with a tourist warning on their country's web site.

Posted by Restless in Rawai on January 4, 2010 14:12

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I have lived here for around 10 years the amount of dramas Tuk Tuk drivers have caused me is ridiculous. I was chased and they tried to run me over while i was on my motorbike for driving to slow down rat-u- thid road. I was looking for a park.

They managed to hit me with an umbrella over my head. I was fined and 500 baht and the Tuk Tuk was fined as well 500 baht. What a joke.

Also this no parking rule where there are no signs where the Tuk Tuk drivers were controlling everything was bound to happen sooner or later

I hope this Tuk Tuk wanna-be gets a few years in jail as farang are his main source of income. If you ended up bashing them, no one will want to use there service or even come to the island.

Posted by No to Tuk Tuk Taxi's on January 4, 2010 14:18

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Every Tuk-Tuk needs a license, just as every bar needs a licence. If you want to sort out either problem, cancel their licence.
Not every driver is an owner, many are owned by one company. Make that company responsible for the drivers it leases its Tuk-Tuks to.

Posted by Peter on January 4, 2010 20:29


Friday October 23, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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