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Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

PHUKET: Hundreds of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers massed near Phuket Provincial Hall today (May 24) to “negotiate” with officials over parking spaces along the Patong beachfront and elsewhere in the island’s busiest tourism town, following an Army push to make more spaces available to the public.

tourism, patong, transport, military,

Premkamon Ketsara

Wednesday 24 May 2017, 08:15PM

The drivers, bolstered by scores of other drivers from Patong’s fleet of “green plate” and “yellow-and-black” commercial passenger vehicles – aka “private taxi” cars and vans – demanded a “fairer share” of the parking spaces in Patong.

The push follows Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, Deputy Commander of the Army Region 4 base in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, which is responsible for all of Southern Thailand, inspected Patong Beach in February and noted that parking spaces along the entire beachfront had been commandeered by private taxis, tuk-tuks and car and motorbike rental operators.

“Rental vehicle operators and taxi drivers must park somewhere else. Lots of tourists visit Patong Beach, especially during the (tourism) high season. We need to take of of their needs,” Gen Pornsak said.

“The car park spaces are for the public, not for private business,” he added. (See story here.)

Since then, officials have tallied that there are currently 84 taxi and tuk-tuk ranks in Patong – and last Thursday (May 18) unveiled plans to slash that number to just 21.

Facing forced reduced presence on the streets, unhappy drivers massed at Provincial Hall on Wednesday to voice their grievance at a meeting joined by Phuket Vice Governor Siwaporn Chuasawad, Patong Police Chief Col Chaiwat Uikum, Patong Deputy Mayor Weerasak Khaminthong, officers from the Phuket Land Transportation Office – and Col Santi Sakuntanark, Commander of the 25th Infantry Regiment and the highest-ranking army officer stationed in Phuket.

“We want number to stay at 84, but if that is not possible, then we want the taxi rank areas combined create bigger ranks,” said Anan Pluemjit, one drivers’ representatives.

Mr Anan added taxi and tuk-tuk drivers were willing to reduce the number to vehicles occupying streetside parking spaces to leave about 50-60% available for the public to use.

Vehicles currently using parking spaces will instead be on standby elsewhere and called up to join the rank when spaces become available.

However, after the meeting on Wednesday, fellow driver representative Aroon Kreuajan said that if officials were to reduce the number of ranks in Patong to 21 – then it would have to be at locations agreed by the Patong drivers.

To this, Col Santi explained, “Many tourists have trouble finding parking spaces in Patong, because there is not lot of public transport. We are trying to find a solution for everyone within the confines of the law.

“Thai and foreign tourists who come to Patong beach will have a place to park their vehicles,” he assured.

“The request for more than 21 ranks in Patong – or bigger ranks – in my opinion is possible, but this must be approved by the Phuket Provincial Office, Col Santi added.

V/Gov Siwaporn said the issued would be handed over to another Phuket Vice Governor to head an investigative committee, which was to convene at a later date – yet to be specified – to further discuss the issue.



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Kurt | 29 May 2017 - 12:41:23

@ Captain Jack.  I understand your reaction on my comment.
Thank you for that.
Yes, as I wrote I know Nanai road very well, have been there in the past a lot in small thai eateries ( nice and good food)
About a light rail, I was not thinking about a massive light rail system, Captain Jack, but about the very light touristic light rail system in 'the air', like on Sentosa island of Singapore.
A touristic very light touristic air rail system.
It can surf 2 purposes, as a tourist attraction ( see patong from above) and partly as a tourist Patong transport.
Tourists than can buy a prepaid card for the tourist light rail in a kiosk in, for example Jung Ceylon.
When the card is empty, they can top up again.

So much is possible with a bit of inventive future thinking.

What we see now on Phuket is a back and forth fighting between many local thai interests ( it is all about money).
They even try to put the tourist in a regimental structure for their own money making desire.

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Kurt | 29 May 2017 - 12:15:10

Good for Thailand that it is slowly active thinking about Singapore.
Thailand now to take on Singapore with a $ 5.7 Billion (!) U-Tapao Airport overhaul.  ( Bloomberg, 29 May).
I guess they learned/regretted that they didn't do the same with Phuket Airport.

Also the thai Ministry of Education is now regular visiting Singapore as the thai education system is not on the right track, to put it mildly.
As written in BKK Post, thai investigation showed that 20% of thai PhD and Masters holders, working in Thai universities have fake degrees and diplomas, not worth the paper it is written on.

Last week we red in BKK Post that most people who can effort it send their kids to International schools or 'overseas'.
Thailand expects the coming years to have to close many local universities.

Thai transport, education, a corrupt free and law enforcement working police force and customs, it all can be adopted from Singapore without giving in/loosing thai identity.
Improve on the 'bad' things ( mostly things that actually harm the local society more than the expat society) and keep the good and nice thai things.

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Pauly44 | 29 May 2017 - 07:09:27

CaptainJack; It has been well & truly proven Phuket taxi/Tuk Tuk mafia cannot and will never be controlled/managed, that horse has bolted, need to come up with an alternative solution for tourists to get around cheap & safe.

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CaptainJack69 | 28 May 2017 - 13:23:25

@KURT: Dude, come on, a light rail down Nanai Road? I'm sorry but that has to be the craziest thing I've ever heard. Have you even seen Nanai Road?

Again, this story (and the big problem affecting us all) is the chronic oversupply of taxi's around Phuket and the damage it's causing by blocking public parking and increasing congestion.

You can talk about alternate transport solutions until the cows come home but there will always be the need for taxi's in some form or another.

The point is that, for all out sake's, Phuket taxi's desperately need responsible oversight and competent management.

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malczx7r | 27 May 2017 - 15:24:49

Kurt, I have a filipino school teacher friend who works in Phuket, she says Thais have no idea of forward planning for anything, she even described at as almost farcical the lack of ability to forward plan.  They think only of today!

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Kurt | 26 May 2017 - 15:39:02

Pauly44:  I agree with you!
A real light rail track could be created at Patong, ( even as a tourist attraction) and I mean a local very light rail like on Sentosa island in Singapore. But modernist. Why not?

Make a 8- route track: Nanai road, Road Rat.2000 and Beach road.
Pillars for that very light touristic rail track can be build at road locations where now all these tuktuks, 'taxis' and motorbike rentals occupy road space illegal.

But it will not happen. Lack of vision, Lack of future thinking.

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Pauly44 | 26 May 2017 - 14:10:35

Phuket can't have its cake and eat it to, they MUST give back & come up with a long term solution to their transport problems which are deeply routed. No good TAT promoting the place if they don't improve infrastructure, a safe no nonsense public transport solution is well overdue and I'm not talking about the current underpass obsession, no one will drive your baht buses as they'll be pulled from the steering wheel and beaten to a pulp, need a drastic solution.

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Kurt | 26 May 2017 - 12:01:59

Many, many years ago, I drove often to Patong for dinner in small thai restaurants at Nanai Road, side soi's at Beach road.
That were years you still could park your car.
Nowadays the taxi tuktuk mafia rule these roads, threaten you if you park at spots they don't want you to park.
Who likes to drive to Patong for a pre-dinner happening like that?

Do Patong small restaurant and and small shops owners realize how much more money they can make during 'low season' when this thai transport mafia would not exist?
Then more permanent foreign residents would visit there outlets and spend money.
Now we avoid Patong, as it is well known as a dangerous parking zone.
Not yet talking about the unsolved bomb happenings, one of them in front of a police boot.

Well, now let us wait and see who are ruling Phuket, the thai government or the tuk tuk/taxi mafia.
So far the thai Phuket government seems not to be 'equipted' to resist the transport mafia.

It is all just about enforcing existing laws. But that is always the problem here.
No law enforcement like in other countries.

Hundreds of taxi/tuk tuk drivers went to Povincial Hall, not to negotiate ( how can one negotiate about what is by law illegal?)but to 'pressure' Provincial Hall.
Many of them parked illegal, was there police to fine them for illegal parking? 
NO!!  Why not?  We all know the answer.

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opinioated farange | 26 May 2017 - 10:49:05

It's 3 years since the military have taken over so can I now get a baht bus from Kamala to Patong. No prizes for guessing the answer.

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LES | 26 May 2017 - 02:59:19

Same old story, the tuk tuk mafia have contacts and influence when the money is involved.Pointless having a vehicle in Patong, or anywhere else on the island unless you leave it your drive because certainly cant park it the street.Many have parked out of ignorance in a so called tuk tuk/taxi space and what abuse they received.
Until the tuk tuks are abolished, the owners compensated and move to another line of business, then we will be for ever reading this type of story. Nothing ever changes in Phuket of this issue and sadly i doubt it ever will.

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