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One in the eye for peace, progress and Phuket: This driver says he was beaten but no Phuket official responded to a protest and petition today

Outcast Drivers Protest Over Beatings

Friday, May 10, 2013
Phuketwan LIVE News Report

PHUKET: Violence has broken up negotiations designed to restore peace among taxi drivers at Phuket International Airport, a protest heard today.

The latest beating took place in daylight with newly arrived tourists at Phuket airport looking on, said the victim, Manoch Themsan, 57.

Taxi drivers were aiming to make their unhappiness known today as they sought to present a petition to Phuket's governor at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City. However, none of Phuket's leaders could be found.

''The third driver was beaten up just three days ago,'' one driver representative told Phuketwan as taxis began filling parking spaces at Provincial Hall.

''The police at Tachatchai were informed about all three beatings but nothing has been done.''

Conflicts have pitted the Mook Andaman group of ''black'' illegal drivers against the Phuket airport's two entrenched taxi and limousine groups.

Mook Andaman sought to add 250 drivers in a third group but officials ruled that the best they could do was to add 25 drivers to each of the existing groups.

Talks aimed at achieving this compromise recently broke down.

The Mook Andaman drivers, who say they are locals just looking for local jobs, are sometimes barred from entering the airport.

Traditional village fiefdoms have given Phuket a taxi system based on patronage and the highest fares in the Thailand.

Attempts to introduce a low-cost hop-on hop-off bus service from the airport to west coast holiday destinations have so far proved fruitless.

9.40am Protesting drivers begin arriving at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City.

9.45am Protest leaders tell media that three drivers have been beaten up and they wish to protest to Phuket's Governor.

10.05am Drivers are told that the Governor is elsewhere, dropping EM balls into a polluted Phuket City canal, dealing with a dengue fever campaign promotion then catching a flight to Penang.

10.25am No Phuket official has come to talk to the drivers, even though the Governor's Office was forewarned they were coming.

10.45am Protest leaders say they are calling their families to join them at Provincial Hall to await a proper response from Phuket officials.

11.30am The protesting drivers decide to find the Phuket Governor and lodge their protest with him, wherever he is.

1.30pm The taxi drivers catch up with Phuket's Governor. He tells them the issue has been delegated to a Vice Govrnor, but as he is flying out today to Penang he will talk to the Phuket airport GM on the way.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Doesn't the Governor's Office post his daily schedule? The previous Governor did.

Posted by mike on May 10, 2013 10:36

Editor Comment:

The governor's schedule is posted intermittently these days. Once, it was possible to know where the governor would be at any time. That's no longer the case. With or without a schedule, it's the first occasion we can remember that a planned protest has not been met by the governor or a vice governor. Protesters are encouraged to go to Provincial Hall rather than blockade the streets. For officials to ignore a planned protest over something as important as alleged beatings is unprecedented.

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Time Bangkok sent in the Army and got the bus routes moving!

Posted by observer on May 10, 2013 11:31

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I am just glad that I don't have to rely on any Taxi or Tuk Tuk in Phuket. It's unbelievable and ridiculous how these people ( taxi / tuk tuk drivers ) can stand above all laws.

Posted by Resident on May 10, 2013 11:40

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Deja vu, and the taxi tuk-tuk saga continues with no chance of their thuggish criminal behaviour and tactics being stopped, by those in power or those responsible for enforcing the laws of the land here on this little island.

Posted by Scunner on May 10, 2013 12:34

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@ED: was there not another meeting coming in may, maybe in the next few days, in regards the bus route? Please follow this up.

Posted by Charles on May 10, 2013 13:04

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I live in Chalong and need to make a 1 week trip abroad next month. I used to park my car at the airport when it was just Bt 50 per day but it now being Bt 200 and full anyway, I'm wondering how to get there without being ripped off.

I've been here almost 10 years so I should know, but I don't.

Does anyone know of a reasonably priced and reliable service from Chalong area to the airport ?

Obviously the bus service is not happening any time soon and would not want to risk missing a flight anyway in case someone decides to block the bus.

Posted by Stephen on May 10, 2013 13:04

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As a tourist, these are the sort of unnecessary high transport costs that make me think twice about ever visiting Phuket again.

Posted by Doug on May 10, 2013 13:17

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This is an issue that everyone has been ducking & dodging for years (decades?) so why should the present Governor be any different. It appears to those of us who have been in & around Phuket that there will never be resolution without Bangkok Government intervention & to date, they have shown no interest.

I agree with Stephen that for those of us who are resident, part or full time, it would be nice to have decent parking at the airport to utilize our own transport & hence avoid the need to use taxis. At approx 900 baht in each direction from Kata/Karon, you can park your own car at the airport for up to 9 days cost effectively; but there is no guarantee you will find a suitable parking space at present.

Posted by Logic on May 10, 2013 14:14

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The governor is a no-show in a lot of cases. Must be pretty occupied with more important stuff. The most low key governor I can remember. Then why need one at all?

Posted by Lena on May 10, 2013 15:08

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@Stephen makes a very good point. I have also been in southern Phuket for more than a few years and am suddenly having similar problems securing reliable and reasonably priced transport to the airport. The drivers that once plied the route are no longer going because of the traffic congestion at Central, plus the airport mafia will not allow them to pick up any return fares - and in many cases not even allow them to drop off.

Last month I flew in from Chiang Mai and the situation at HKT was an absolute nightmare. Many flights had just arrived and there were not enough taxis. The former 'metered' taxi stand had a 'no taxis' sign posted while dozens of bleary-eyed tourists loitered on the sidewalks, unwilling to pay the 1,300 Baht that the available taxis were demanding for destinations south of Central.

I had to walk out of the airport grounds to find another driver, but he also wanted 1,300 Baht. After much discussion in Thai he finally agreed to 900, but I had to put up with his pissing and moaning about me being a 'cheap charlie' all the way home. He was also less than pleased when a gratuity was not forthcoming.

Posted by Treelover on May 10, 2013 16:02

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I noticed where the 'new airport buses' were parked up the other day- all looking bright and shiny. I guess they are likely to stay that way- parked up that is! We are now well past the deadline for when this was to be discussed post-Songkran- another thing that slipped the Gov's mind?

Posted by Mister Ree on May 10, 2013 17:28

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And so the beat(ing) goes on ...

I get around Asia quite a bit and I don't know any country, in which the Phuket type of lawlessness would be tolerated, not even in countries much poorer than Thailand. Will the rot ever be stopped? If I were a betting man I'd know where to hedge my bets.

Posted by Swami K. on May 10, 2013 18:35

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Bring in the Army for 2 years and sort out the transport cartels. The Thai taxi thugs seems to use violence on the country fellow man, so can the Army then.Let them patroll the airport area and clean the mess up. Talk about low class service people. How can someone demand high class tourist. Do not think they want to see fights among thugs in a so called paradise island.

Posted by One Expat 13 years on May 10, 2013 20:37

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The Phuket taxi mob are beating each other up over who has the right to defraud the paying customers. Isn't this the stuff of pantomime?

Posted by geoff on May 10, 2013 22:07

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interesting that people condemned the army intervening in Bangkok but are now braying for them to intervene here. We are talking about taxi cartels not civil war - it is no the place of the army in ANY democracy, however fragile, to involve itself in domestic affairs that worst case are for the police to sort out. Armies are there to support the Civil Power, not usurp it. This canker will explode at some point, the sooner the better.

Posted by Mister Ree on May 10, 2013 22:44

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everything is about how to squeeze out as much money as possible from tourists who only are regarded as walking wallets. very charming. never pukhet again for me unfortunately, it's a lovley island

Posted by kk on May 12, 2013 02:29

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Illegal taxis beaten up by the cartel that was legally contracted to provide taxis at the airport.
Everything happened because the airport could not make the stand to disallow illegal taxis in. Do they not understand the term "illegal"?

Posted by May on May 13, 2013 10:19


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