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Driven legal: Army backs Phuket campaign for commercial drivers to have correct licences

PHUKET: The Phuket Land of Transport Office (PLTO) with support from Royal Thai Army soldiers on the island have launched a campaign to ensure that drivers of all commercial passenger vehicles in Phuket, including ride-sharing cars, at least have the correct driving licences.

tourism, transport, military, police, crime, economics,

Tanyaluk Sakoot

Sunday 19 March 2017, 08:00AM

The campaign, confirmed PLTO Chief Banyat Kantha on Wednesday (Mar 15), comes only weeks after Mr Banyat arrived in Phuket to take up the post as Phuket’s leading Land Transport official.

Soldiers, police and PLTO staff are already checking drivers passing through checkpoints set up across Phuket, including at Phuket International Airport, the Phuket Checkpoint leading onto the island, as well as in Kamala and elsewhere, in a co-ordinated campaign, Mr Banyat said.

“This crackdown is in conjunction with the one in Bangkok on ride-sharing drivers, and is made possible with extra support from the Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, Deputy Commander of Royal Thai Army Region 4,” Mr Banyat explained.

However, while Bangkok officials are wrapped up in the GrabCar and Uber driver crackdown, Chief Banyat said, “I don’t think GrabTaxi and Uber will be problem in Phuket. Drivers not having public vehicle licenses is more important and what I am focussing on right now.

‘The situation about commercial passenger drivers not having the correct licences is worrying,” he added.

“Gen Pornsak asked which issues needed attention to improve tourism in Phuket, and the PLTO advised that we must do as much as we can with the Royal Thai Army to ensure drivers of public transport vehicles are properly licensed. Hence there is no time limit for this campaign. It will continue as long as necessary,” Mr Banyat explained.

Drivers caught operating a public transport vehicle without the correct licence will be banned from driving such vehicles immediately.

“They will be fined about B2,000 to B5,000, depending on the type of vehicle, and they will be arranged to take the correct test as soon as possible,” Mr Banyat said.


Chief Banyat noted that in January alone, a total of 195 people applied for new public passenger vehicle licenses.

“A further 35 other drivers had their public vehicle licenses renewed,” he said.

But of the 195 new applicants, “only 60 people joined the lessons – and of those only 39 passed the tests and were actually issued new licenses,” he noted.

The campaign will soon ratchet up a notch to also target uniforms, Mr Banyat warned.

“From April 1, public drivers will be checked to ensure they wear appropriate uniforms, because tourists who just arrive at Phuket International Airport would expect to see a trustworthy uniform. Public uniforms will reflect the tourism industry in Phuket,” he explained.

“As such, public drivers must wear collared shirts and plain long pants with no pattern at all, as well as proper shoes and a name tag.

“If they do not comply, they will be fined up to B1,000 every time they are caught. They have until April 1 to sort this out. In the meantime we are letting them know this requirement is coming,” he said.



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ematt | 20 March 2017 - 17:50:05

Clearly a positive move on the part of the police and army - glad to see it. Of course it is to be expected that the chronically angry and bitter expert expats posting here would throw shade immediately.

Ha! Eagle, you are so right. I finally had to move out of Kamala because of all the enormously fat farangs riding around on motorbikes with no shirt, showing off their huge bloated gut, sagging breasts, and hairy backs. 

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Discover Thainess | 20 March 2017 - 15:03:55

Maybe they should just leave things as they are: the "system" seems to work quite well for all concerned, apart from the tourists. Then when phuket implodes we can all start again!

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Eagle | 20 March 2017 - 14:51:48

Kurt,you are using the words ignorance and Ethics.But reading your comment it seems like you telling us that the security guards etc.are ignorant and having no ethics and not the shirtless tourists.Or did i get it wrong here?

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Kurt | 20 March 2017 - 11:33:49

About shirtless tourists, inside shopping centers and on motorbikes in town areas,  no thai official even stops/block them.
Ever seen even a security guard in a shopping center to request friendly the tourist to dress up before entering ?

Even a Villa Market shop allows them to walk in just wearing swim shorts to do their shopping.
Ignorance .. 100%
All just for money making. Ethics? Nooo. ( What do you mean: 'Ethics'?)

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Kurt | 20 March 2017 - 11:07:14

When is the light breaking through that 'campaign thinking' is not working?
It should be 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year a good  and sufficient road traffic law enforcements, specially focusing on public ( tourist) transport organizations.
Such come and go.  It is not changing attitudes/mentality.

At Phuket airport there should be permanent 2 boots at ingoing and outgoing gates to check the professional drivers. 
Just check 50% of them ( not hold up the traffic), and the drivers know there is 50% chance to get trouble if they not respect the law.
And fines? Start with 5000 thb + 1 month suspension.
The present fine system with very low fines are laugh stock and already in-calculated by drivers.
Not exactly a hit in their wallet!

By the way, On Governor's 'Phuket Smart city' I still can not flag down a empty taxi on Chaofa Roads( while showing his red FREE light). 
Why is that? Seems Bangkok is a 'Smart City'. Phuket definitely not.
Is that not against the thai public transport laws?

Who of Phuket officials steps forward and say: I am responsible for this mess?
And please, don't bombard us with telephone numbers to report matters.
They or speak not English, or disconnect. It is all just a bad show.

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BenPendejo | 19 March 2017 - 21:11:40

And I agree with Eagle about the shirtless farangs (and obnoxious French Arabs).  They deserve a 300 baht fine for subjecting the general public to their disgusting fat guts.

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simon01 | 19 March 2017 - 20:54:45

Ha ha. This again is so crazy. fine 2,000 baht when they are caught with no license. Then 1,000 for no unifirm. That is no deterrant at all. If no license then make it 30,000 and 6 month ban. That will make people becme legal. Then if caught a second time still no license for passengers then life time ban and 500,000 fine. So 35 people renewed the license and 39 passed the test that means there are only 74 legal taxi drivers in phuket. I am sure 99% of tuk tuks do not even have driving license let alone ones that allow passengers. But I guess with the army stepping in it will stop the corruption in the police for a while. The down side is they will target another area instead. But with the army taking on the roads then at last they should become safer but they need to make the fines much uch bigger to makee them a deterrent. 

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Bjay | 19 March 2017 - 18:51:59

This is farcical? The fact that the Thai Government & the Thai Police ignore the fact that there are many unqualified drivers behind the wheels of vehicle they are not permitted to drive! All of these Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) & Public Service Vehicles (PSV). It is clear that the Police are not interested when the unqualified drivers blame their Brakes failed when they have accidents? Likewise PSV also when the mini bus drivers fail to adjust their speed when road conditions deteriorate!Now they pass the responsibility to the military??? The Fine's levied by the authorities are not sufficient to deter these illegal Drivers

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Eagle | 19 March 2017 - 15:57:43

After enforcing the taxi driver dress code,they should do something about the shirtless bike driving{mainly westerner} people.

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BenPendejo | 19 March 2017 - 14:48:12

I am a strong advocate of the Army stepping in for law enforcement.  The existing police force is a complete farce...just a bunch of lazy do-nothings, corrupt money stealers and overall root of many many problems in Phuket...and probably Thailand. !!! Go ARMY !!!

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