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The meeting yesterday where a taxi revolution on Phuket gained momentum

Taxi! Phuket Drivers Have Actually Been Passengers for Too Long, Phuket Decides

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Phuketwan 'Brave Enough to Change' Campaign

PHUKET: Enforcement by Phuket's Governor and local councils will be the key to whether the crackdown on Phuket's taxis succeeds in giving the holiday island a better system, controversial Patong businessman Prab Keesin said last night.

Khun Prab, who has for years attempted to lift the standards of taxis and tuk-tuks in Patong, was speaking after a meeting in Kata-Karon left many feeling optimistic about change - if only more local resorts show some courage.

''I'd say the crackdown has been 70 percent successful and the rest will be in the hands of the governor, the councils and local police,'' said Khun Prab, son of former Patong Mayor Pian Keesin.

''We've seen so many governors and police chiefs come and go over the years, each with their own ideas, but mostly there has been confusion and lack of consistency.''

Khun Prab wants to see tests applied to winnow the layabouts from the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who sincerely want to work.

The Patong businessman emerged to talk to the media in Phuket City last night about potential outcomes in advance of the Patong push under the crackdown that has already seen scores of Phuket drivers and resident blockaders charged.

Region 8 police aim to keep up their surprise bid to change Phuket's culture until the island has obliterated the gangs who used intimidation and extortion to create power and excessively high fares for themselves.

There is probably no other place in the world where taxi drivers charge so much for doing so little - and for years they've gotten away with it by applying malicious muscle in blockades and threatening behavior.

''It's a social problem,'' said Khun Prab, who has immersed himself for several years in the tuk-tuk and taxi culture and introduced simple reforms and cohesion in Patong.

''The authorities must establish international standards and rules of behavior and only those drivers who accept the rules should be licenced to operate.

''Once the task force goes home, it will be up to the Governor, the mayors and the local police. What are they going to do? Enforce the rules, or compromise?

''All of them need to show their professionalism. Or will they simply kick the ball in the air, as they always have done in the past on so many issues, and let someone else try to control the problem when it hits the ground?''

He said the crackdown was ''70 percent complete'' and the element of surprise had worked well when the task force of 1150 soldiers, police and volunteers began making arrests unexpectedly a week ago today.

All 10 of Phuket's police stations were represented at a meeting at Kata-Karon council offices yesterday.

So were about 60 resorts, along with transport officials, Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud and Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada.

As usual, though, the resorts showed a lack of courage. Only a handful of the 60 resorts were represented by owners or senior managers. One resort even sent along a receptionist.

Instead of there being an open debate about the issue, most resort reps sat and listened, with the exception of two or three wise owners who wish to see the taxis' needless collateral damage to Phuket's tourism industry ended.

Basically, many of Phuket's west coast resorts are conditioned by prosperity to self-interest and have no concept of being involved in local decision-making. (Perhaps Region 8 police should consider raiding the resorts next, and knocking a few heads together.)

Selfishness seems to be endemic in the Kata-Karon district, where Karon Police Station Superintendent Colonel Natpakin Kawnchaiyapuk yesterday set out the plan to clear the taxis and tuk-tuks from blocking the district's roads and ending entrenched thuggery.

Taxis will only be allowed to park in 20 to 30 spots around Kata-Karon, with just two taxis at a time in each spot, he said.

Each of the taxi parking stations would be 500 metres apart.

Other taxis would park in a holding area, to be established by the local council, and called in as required by a controller with a walkie talkie.

Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who continue to think that their own taxi-only painted yellow lines on the roadways have any significance will face severe action by police, the colonel said.

The meeting was told that resorts have the option of absorbing two or three taxi drivers if they chose, but the process will make the drivers part of the resort's ''family'' and oblige them to adopt the resort's uniform and service mentality.

''We are going to eradicate the on-street taxi stands,'' Colonel Natpakin said.

''The Karon district had 54 stands and 36 have been taken away. Do not imagine that the others will survive. Thirteen of them block the footpath and will be removed.

''The others are on private land and the drivers carry their chairs with them.''

Phuketwan has suggested that a calculation should be made of the number of taxis needed on Phuket once a pickup-anywhere system is introduced and fares have been cut in half to obliterate the rip-off of passengers paying for the journey they don't make, back to base.

With the need for drivers substantially reduced, alternative job training should be offered to genuine Phuket people who want to continue to support their families.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Nice to paint someone who has been part of the problem for years in such a good light and he has become another one of your 'Saviours of Patong'. I suppose the fact that his family's resort features prominently in your advertising banners above has nothing to do with that.

As pointed out in your other article the resort encroaches onto the beach and the 'erosion' excuse is trundled out every time this issue raises its head.

Posted by Mister Ree on June 11, 2014 09:38

Editor Comment:

You seem as always to have made up your mind without benefit of any brain cell activity whatsoever, Mister Ree. As fair-minded journalists, we treat even narrow-minded commenters with the small amount of respect they deserve. There's nothing in Prab Keesin's past that supports your overly active suspicious mind, other than the fact he has an unavoidable genetic connection to his father. People who assess children on the basis of what their fathers did or didn't do are just like you, incapable of making sound judgements. Yet despite your deficiencies, we'd accept your advertising.

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Will the intercity bus station taxi services come under the same scrutiny as the rest? The fares they charge for small distances make the airport to Patong and beyond look downright decent.

Posted by seht1912 on June 11, 2014 09:39

Editor Comment:

So far the scrutiny has been on the crimes of extortion and intimidation. Excessive fares are a byproduct of both those crimes, and certainly in need of revision downwards.

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If Pattaya can run 20 baht buses then so can Patong, not 40 or 50 baht.

Posted by coxo on June 11, 2014 10:06

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It is really unbelievable what the army has done.
I never thought that I would see this happen in my lifetime
Keep up the good work.

One question ed. Do you think the army will also investigate the payments to the police and other corrupt government officials?

Posted by Ben K on June 11, 2014 10:59

Editor Comment:

This is actually a police investigation, Ben K, not an Army investigation. The Army just helped out a little.

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"I'd say the crackdown has been 70 percent successful and the rest will be in the hands of the governor, the councils and local police.."

This sentence worries me considering that those organizations - in my opinion - are the core problem on why we never had ethical and equal law enforcement and control.

Posted by Mr. K on June 11, 2014 11:01

Editor Comment:

As you know, Mr K, change is not only possible - it's inevitable. No point in doomsaying.

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One question ed. Do you think the army will also investigate the payments to the police and other corrupt government officials?

Posted by Ben K on June 11, 2014 10:59

Editor Comment:

This is actually a police investigation, Ben K, not an Army investigation. The Army just helped out a little.

Thanks for clarification Ed.

I want to remain positive and I hope that there are more good coppers that bent ones.

So maybe further down the track we will see this issue addressed.

One must live in hope.

Posted by Ben K on June 11, 2014 11:54

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Have you been last evening in Loma park at Patong, where local drivers were calling for media to attend to express pain and grief of losing their huts?

Posted by Sue on June 11, 2014 12:15

Editor Comment:

One of our reporters was at Loma Park but the destruction of restaurant extensions and the views of Prab Keesin had far greater news value.

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(moderated)

Posted by ThaiMike on June 11, 2014 14:25

Editor Comment:

The way for your comments to be published, ThaiMike, is to remember that we treat all real life people honorably. For you as an anonymous commenter to blacken any real person's name is unacceptable. I hope that makes it plain.

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(moderated)

Posted by ThaiMike on June 11, 2014 16:27

Editor Comment:

No interest, ThaiMike. Try it on elsewhere.

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How unfortunate.

Henry Ford was quite outspoken in defense of certain individuals and movement which in the end put a serious dent to his reputation.

I hear you loud and clear now.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 11, 2014 17:03

Editor Comment:

Impugning the reputations of the living AND the dead seems to be your specialty, ThaiMike. Saving commenters from their own foolish assumptions appears to be ours.

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Met Sonny a few times. Was a sceptic at first, but IMO, will give him the benefit of the doubt. As ED says, genetics don't automatically mean he's a crook.

Posted by GiantFan on June 12, 2014 01:39

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i agree with the reporter from phuketwan introduce a fair priced pick up system make it work and watch the taxi drivers drop their prices i am a regular visitor from south africa but will only (like a lot of tourists) use the tuc tuc /taxis when absolutly necessary but if a fair priced transport system was introduced i would travel around the island more therefore spreading the wealth to more of the people who are trying to make ends meet

Posted by george on June 17, 2014 21:41


Sunday August 18, 2019
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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