This development comes on an island where nearly every form of so-called “public transport” is privately owned, from the tuk-tuk and taxi mafia and their incredible “fees” for joining tuk-tuk ranks operated by the key leaders to the airport limousine “co-operatives” who pay exorbitant “concession fees” to Airports of Thailand (AoT) for the right to pick up passengers at Phuket Airport.
The airport buses are privately operated, as are the blue-and-white songthaew that work from the market in Phuket Town and even the motorbike taxi outfits.
Despite the “fees” they collect and the endless complaints against them, which even inspired a crackdown by the military two years ago, they are all legally endorsed by the Phuket Land Transport Office.
The only exceptions are the pink Po Thong buses operated by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO), and even they do not dare extend their routes into other transport moguls’ turf.
Whether people agree with the investment model or not, private business gets things done for one primary reason – they exist to make money. Yet, if such corporations bring public benefit to where the government has failed for so long, it must be heralded as good news.
Beautiful news in this regard is that the primary PKCD investors intend to float the company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which in essence throws down the gauntlet to cynics who would like to call the PKCD nothing more than just another “cartel”.
With an IPO, the public themselves can literally invest in Phuket, and claim their share of the profits made. How simple is that?
Without doubt many challenges lie ahead. The introduction of genuine public transport will ruffle the feathers of many of those profiting from Phuket’s lucrative transport industry.
How the PKCD will manage these issues remains to be seen, but Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan was correct in pointing out that no one knows the issues at hand or the mentality of the existing “public transport providers” better than these key Phuket people. If anyone can do it, they can – and they have the motivation to achieve it.