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More tourists caught in Phuket taxi turf wars

More tourists caught in Phuket taxi turf wars

PHUKET: The behaviour of Phuket taxi drivers made headlines again this week after a female driver of a metered taxi posted a video of her receiving threats for picking up passengers from a well-known Phuket hotel. The incident was witnessed by foreign tourists who were getting into the metered taxi when the confrontation started.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Friday 14 October 2022, 05:13PM

The news became public after a video of the conflict was posted on a popular local social media channel on Thursday (Oct 13). In the clip, a man is heard talking angrily to a female taximeter driver while she picks up two foreign tourists in front of Katathani Phuket Beach Resort on Kata Noi Beach in Karon. 

The car is a red and yellow Phuket metered taxi, officially allowed to work anywhere on the island including Phuket International Airport. The Toyota sedan bears an SHA Plus certification sticker as well as the 1584 complaints hotline sticker and the driver’s phone number enabling it to identify the driver as a legal service provider.

The conversation develops in Thai language. A man, not seen in the clip, tells the female driver that she “should not come here again as there is already a local taxi queue in this place” to serve customers.

The female driver asks if it is the hotel forbidding picking up passengers, but only gets accusations of stealing other drivers’ customers.

“That’s right, there is a queue here. What if I would be stealing guests from your queue?” the man says.

“If you don’t believe me, try and come to pick customers here again,” he threatens.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, the female taxi driver explained that the confrontation in front of Katathani happened at around 11am this Thursday (Oct 13). The woman said that she had been working as a Phuket taxi driver for 15 years and never had had any incidents of this kind before either at Katathani nor anywhere else.

The woman proceeded to say that she did not find the case serious and thus did not report it to any officials. Yet, she would report if it happens again.

“Usually it is up to the customer to choose whether to use a hotel car or a metered taxi. It’s good that nothing serious happened this time, the man just shouted at me and forbade me to pick up passengers at the aforementioned hotel again,” the driver said.

Laguna Phuket

“This incident was not very serious, therefore I did not report it. But what if I have other customers asking to pick them up from this hotel? I am worried there can be another incident. If I come again and face the same problem, I will report the case to authorities. And I would like the government to speed up their taxi drivers’ training to eliminate bad taxis and illegal taxi apps from Phuket,” she added.

Phuket officials are yet to react to the incident, the latest one in the whole series of resonant cases which became public amid tourism revival.

On September 2, four tourists from Israel found themselves in the middle of a dispute at Rassada Pier. The foreigners were forced to take a local taxi instead of a vehicle they booked via a mobile application as the local club had a “concession” with the ferry operator. Police ruled both sides were in the right.

On September 28, two foreign tourists were forced to leave their booked van at Phuket International Airport as the vehicle was not “approved” to pick up tourists at the airport. Airports of Thailand Phuket branch (AoT Phuket) claimed security as the reason for this.

On Oct 1 a conflict sparked between a female taxi driver from JustGrab service and member of a local queue at Cafe fel Mar in Kamala. The woman’s car was damaged by one of the local drivers during the confrontation. Both parties were declared to be in the wrong.

Yet, the aforementioned recent cases are nowhere close to what happened in 2013 when a US Navy aircraft carrier was caught in the middle of a local taxi dispute. The 5,500-strong crew of USS Nimitz were forced to use the services of a local taxi club instead of free shuttle buses that American sailors had enjoyed previously.

Local taxi drivers physically barred any vehicles other than those "registered" with their club from coming into the port while USS Nimitz was docked there.

“If we allow just anyone to come in here when we don’t know who they are, then if anything happens to the passengers, it will be difficult to place blame. We might be blamed for letting them in,” local village headman Narong Kumban explained at the time.

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Phuketski | 18 October 2022 - 18:52:43

And Phuket wants to be a candidate for the Expo 2028? LOL, forget it. No public transport in place, criminal taxi mafia. A long way to go, maybe Expo 2128?

Pooliekev | 15 October 2022 - 14:14:21

Thats a good thing right? Then they'll be no more and you'll have to find something else to get angry about.

Fascinated | 15 October 2022 - 12:36:23

Keep digging that hole you thugs- hopefully one day your vehicles will be scrapped and buried in it. Keep up the good work social media- its only Phuket's 'reputation' that will eventually stir the authorities into action. A sector of the community I am glad that has suffered through and after COVID. A pox on them all.

Kamala Pete | 15 October 2022 - 12:25:22

I'm curious about where a large number of these Tuk Tuks clagging up our roads are registered. I've always thought that "Nina" indicates Phuket registration - but many of them are something else. Have they come onto the island from elsewhere? do they have the right to operate here? Are the police checking the validity of their licenses? 

JohnC | 15 October 2022 - 08:52:03

With each new incident of this type it is clear that more and more tourists and locals are making taxi queues their very last option, unless there is no other choice at all. These clowns haven't even got the brains to realise that they are putting themselves out of business by their belligerent disgusting behaviour.

Prab | 14 October 2022 - 21:50:11

another day in the jungle 

Kurt | 14 October 2022 - 19:55:56

The Tourist transport sector, with her mafiose cartels, unrealistic idiot rules, with Phuket airport and Transport bureau involved, is getting out of hand. International social media is showing more and more of scamming aggressive drivers practises. It is scary to take a taxi. And the Phuket Governors?? Remain silent as a mouse.


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