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Tuk-tuks, taxis multiply as economic pressure mounts

Phuket Pounce on 'Black' Taxis Does No Good

Monday, December 14, 2009
A SWEEP by police saw the arrest of about 40 ''black'' taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers in Patong last Monday and Tuesday, a spokesperson for Phuket's Land Transport Office told a meeting.

Transport Office staffer Shanya Panchalad said that sweeps would also be made in other parts of the island, in coordination with police, at undisclosed times.

News of the arrests came at a meeting about the tuk-tuk dispute with Centara Karon Resort Phuket. The number of illegal taxis is a complicating factor in Phuket's continuing transport problem.

Saloon car taxis usually have a blue and yellow number plate that distinguishes them from ''black'' taxis, which carry normal plates.

A Karon-Kata tuk-tuk official told Phuketwan that there were 511 tuk-tuks, taxis and minivans operating in that part of Phuket.

The local system allows people who wish to become drivers to register, without the need to notify any island-wide department, hence the lack of control on numbers.

Instead of tough times putting a cap on the number of vehicles, more people, unable to find other work, are turning to taxi-driving.

The oversupply of tuk-tuks and taxis lies at the heart of Phuket's transport woes. Phuketwan believes the problem can only be solved by introduction of a co-ordinated strategy to phase out tuk-tuks by offering alternative training and potential jobs.

Coupled with the tourism turn-off caused by excessively high fares, the current system is unsustainable and can only be damaging to the best interests of Phuket and all those involved: big resort brands, tour companies, the drivers, and the entire tourism industry.

Kathu Police Station chief Colonel Grissak Songmoonnark said that each of the arrested drivers had to pay a 500 baht fine, which is the present maximum under the law.

''We do not have the capacity to keep on arresting these people every day,'' he said. The men were all fined and set free, he said.

Some people obtain copies of colored motorcycle jackets, which made it difficult for police to tell illegal riders from legal riders without the help of the transport office.

We reprint a report from Phuketwan earlier this year:

Bid to Put 373 More Tuk-Tuks on Phuket Roads
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AN APPLICATION ia being made to have an additional 373 tuk-tuks registered to add to the 1145 already in action on Phuket, a meeting heard today.

The increase in tuk-tuks is being sought despite complaints by tourists that the fares charged by tuk-tuks are extortionate and a cheaper form of public transport is needed on the island.

Nantanat Sealim, of Patong's Samakee Tuk-Tuk Club, told today's gathering at Provincial Hall in Phuket City that more than half of tuk-tuks in the west coast resort town were rented out.

Rent drivers paid a 15,000 baht guarantee, then between 350 baht to 400 baht a day to drive the vehicles. Fuel was a cost they also had to bear, he said.

The other registered tuk-tuks were owned by drivers who did not have to meet such high running costs.

But there were four times that number of ''black'' or illegal tuk-tuks operating on the island, he said.

The meeting also heard that many driver-owners drove the vehicles themselves, and rented them out to two other drivers each working an eight-hour shift.

Organised by the Transport Department, the meeting was to hear the needs of Phuket's private transport system.

There was no sugestion that a radical approach was needed and that tuk-tuk numbers actually should be reduced.

In terms of numbers, the meeting was told that there are 3053 registered motorcycle taxis and motorcycles for hire on the island, along with 2055 mini-vans, 69 metered taxis, 597 limousines, 644 tuk-tuks under the ''Tuk-Tuk 30'' group banner and 501 under the ''Tuk-Tuk'' banner.

Of the requests for 373 additional registrations of tuk-tuks, Khun Nantanat said that 216 of the requests came from Patong people or from people who had been living in patong for 10 years or more.

The other 157 requests came from Phuket City and other areas where tuk-tuks operate.

Khun Nantanat told the meeting that Patong's tuk-tuks were not managed as effeciently as those in Kata-Karon.

Some of the owners in Patong owned many tuk-tuks and rented them all out, around the clock.

Phuket City tuk-tuk president Daroon Suksai asked why Patong needed so many more tuk-tuks when there were already so many based there.

Khun Daroon said that peole who wanted to register vehicles usually bought their vehicles first, then applied for the legal documents.

''People then say, 'Why are you trying to stop me making a lving when I have already invested in a tuk-tuk vehicle?'' Khun Daroon added.

Sarayuth Mallam, Vice President of the Phuket Tourist Association, said that tuk-tuks were having a detrimental effect on tourism.

''Are you crazy?'' he said, addressing the meeting in general. ''There are already too many tuk-tuks and no space for parking in Patong.

''Registered or not, the image is bad and the harm is being done to tourism.''

Vice Governor Smit Palawichai chaired the meeting and said he would call another meeting for further debate before a decision is made.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


A 500 baht fine.. That will teach them !! As much as a single fare from one town to another.

The problem is not the illegal black taxis, its the legal monopoly, all this is doing is helping them stifle any competition and helping them cement their cartel.

Posted by LivinLOS on December 14, 2009 18:07


Get them to look outside Central Festival. There is an official taxi desk there - near where the coaches park. Most of the taxis there are on white number plates. Go see for yourself.

And presumably, the managers of Central are aware of this as it appears to be an official taxi desk, with taxi drivers all wearing a batik shirted uniform.

Posted by MrG on December 14, 2009 19:24


Boycott tuk tuks until they install meters.

Posted by Doyler on December 14, 2009 23:16

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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