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Phuket's taxis, tuk-tuks being looked at by Bangkok  investigators

Phuket Tuk-Tuks, Taxis Probe by Bangkok

Thursday, January 19, 2012
PHUKET: A special Interior Ministry team will visit Phuket next month to investigate the huge number of illegal taxis on Phuket, exorbitant fares of tuk-tuks, and accusations of ''mafia'' tactics that include blockades on public roads and intimidation at some Phuket resorts.

The Interior Ministry team's findings are likely to be known before Thailand's Cabinet meets on Phuket - probably on March 19-20 and with PM Yingluck Shinawatra attending - to discuss practical solutions to what passes for public transport on Phuket.

Announcing the taxi/tuk-tuk investigation and the Cabinet meeting, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha said yesterday that he expected the Bangkok investigative team would work with his Phuket committee as it continues to look for solutions to Phuket's multiple transport woes.

Governor Tri said that he had yet to receive letters formally announcing the Phuket visits by the Interior Ministry investigative team and Cabinet, but expected the letters to arrive soon.

More that 4000 privately owned vehicles are being used as taxis on Phuket because the extortionate fares agreed among local taxi and tuk-tuk groups make being a ''black'' cab driver an easy way to earn a living for any local who drives a car.

In most other places, a relatively small but efficient number of taxis answer calls 24 hours a day to provide a reasonably priced service for passengers who need to go from Point A to Point B swiftly.

On Phuket, historic village monopolies have retained their place well into the 21st century. Fares are set at extremely high rates and local groups, sometimes described as ''mafia'' because of their intimidatory tactics, ensure that they retain their monopolies.

On Phuket, taxis from Point A may carry passengers to Point B but only taxis from Point B can carry passengers from Point B to Point A.

Apart from a small group of regular taxis based at Phuket International Airport, there is no cab-call system on Phuket - making Phuket probably the only international holiday island of any stature without that kind of service.

New resorts about to open on Phuket usually have to go through the process of negotiating with local drivers to decide who is entitled to pick up and drop off passengers at the resort.

Any driver who tries to enter a resort without authorisation to pick up passengers is likely to be met with threats or even violence, as tourists continue to discover.

The aggressive attitude of some drivers and extortionate fares, along with the basic conditions of most taxis and tuk-tuks, is often criticised by holidaymakers as a negative for Phuket and cited as a reason why many do not return.

Even more significantly, local Phuket residents are forced from an early age to ride their own motorcycles - at considerable danger and in overcrowded traffic - because the taxi and tuk-tuk monopolies have prevent an economical public transport network of buses being established.

Members of the families of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers have been among those killed or maimed on Phuket's roads because there is no safe, reasonably priced alternative.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I sincerely hope that this will be the beginning of the end of the overpriced, violence marred transportation problems in Phuket.

Bringing the prices in line with those of Bangkok would be welcome. Even if there was a 10% island surcharge, compared to Bangkok, I think that people could live with it.

Posted by Relic on January 19, 2012 13:05

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"A special Interior Ministry team will visit Phuket next month to investigate..."

And when they find out who really owns Phuket, will they run away and hide like all the other "investigators" have done?

Posted by Eric on January 19, 2012 13:29

Editor Comment:

You'll have to tell us which other investigators have opted to ''run away and hide.'' We must have missed it. You imply that you know who ''really owns Phuket.'' Who is that, Eric?

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Yawn!!!

Posted by sky on January 19, 2012 17:02

Editor Comment:

Sounds as though you'd yawn when love-making or even when being beaten up, sky. Bored with life?

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I hope they will find out about the empty yellow marked parking lots and the occupied-by-illegal-taxis public parking lots right next to them. Just look in Karon in front of the newly opened "Simplitel". >:-(
In the evening here is a red Honda Jazz and a black Toyota parked, windows tinted about 85%, normal license plate (black&white), and a carton sign "Taxi" on top, polluting the nearby restaurants with its running engine.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on January 19, 2012 17:36

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Compared to me making love, If I truly felt that these actions would really lead to any positive results...I'd be having multiple orgasms reading this article

Posted by sky on January 19, 2012 17:44

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this mission should be conducted jointly with a team from anti-corruption administration to show why this problem was not fixed for many years and, also, to understand why outlaws can operate with complete impunity and continue to extort money from tourists for the last ten years.
My conclusion, I do not see any added value from the governor administration in this audit as they were unable to fix transport issue in Phuket.

Posted by Anonymous on January 19, 2012 19:51

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A polite suggestion to those who come to investigate the corruption in Phuket.

Perhaps you would gain a better insight into this serious problem if you stopped making public announcements about your intentions to visit the island.

Howabout visiting covertly?

I'm not a policeman (well I was once!), but announcing your intentions is .. well .. a pretty naive move

Isn't it????

Posted by Simon Luttrell on January 19, 2012 20:50

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Simon mate your spot on but this is the normal tactic used when investigating any of Phukets woes, give the offenders a heads up then release a statement to the press stating we never seen any problem on our visit so there is no problem. Hence the reason we are in the mess were in.

Posted by Scunner on January 19, 2012 22:32

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As a couple we picked Thailand as our 50 years birthday destination from Canada. Reading headlines and was we were starting to regret our choice. Reading that someone actually cares about how tourists are being exploited and bullied is somewhat reassuring...let's hope it has impact.

Posted by Jojo on January 20, 2012 04:39

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So.....what happened too:-

Creating a central area in Patong for tuk-tuks so that they can be called when needed, thus, freeing up parking space?

Reversing the one way system?

Prices to destinations displayed on tuk-tuks?

If the powers that be can't even implement these simple changes, what chance.......Oh, nevermind.

Posted by Sir Burr on January 20, 2012 09:57

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Excellent article describing the tuk tuk taxi systems in Phuket in a few simple words. Sincerely hope central government wants to clean up and move public transportation into this century. Meter taxi system as in BKK, even at triple prices, would be most welcome.

Posted by katabeachbum on January 20, 2012 11:14

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Sorry Guv, the last thing you want the BKK group to do is work with your existing committee. How many years has the committee had to find a solution?

Posted by GiantFan on January 20, 2012 12:07

Editor Comment:

The committee was established last year.

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I am always enjoying and therefore only reading Phuketwan cos of Editor's comments .. Editor, your always welcome to my bar for a free drink.. =)

Posted by frog on January 20, 2012 19:15

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I hope the group also looks at the Patong moto taxis, who have jumped on the bandwagon and now charge a minimum of 60 Baht per person, forcing many people to drive themselves, in situations were they would be safer not doing so.

Posted by Sandy Shores on January 21, 2012 09:20

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I agree that I enjoy the editors comments at times more than the articles. Over 20 years as a visiting veteran and now semi retired resident in Phuket, does give me some insight, that is based on "experience" We all just have to learn to live with our frustrations here. I still gripe, try to understand, but love the place. TIT. The one comment I would make, is that at least the news appears to be reported as is. Look forward to continuing interaction from the editor

Posted by Mike on February 3, 2012 17:00


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