The high profile visit came as part of action ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to get legitimate taxi operations better organised and to crack down on illegal taxis – both long-term problems at Phuket Airport.
The drive is also intended to get the sticky fingers of “influential” people and local politicians (often the same people) out of the taxi business.
Prateuang Sornkam, Director of Phuket International Airport, escorted Capt Sompong Nakthong, Chief of Staff at the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet; and Pol Lt Col Teenawat Leamsuwan, Superintendent of Tah Chat Chai Police Station, as they made the rounds.
They discovered that although one group of 50 taxis is legally registered to work at the airport, another group of 50 did not have “green plate” taxi licences, and there were a further 18 unaffiliated taxis that were also unlicensed.
The Navy now has all the names and the illegal taxi drivers will be told to behave and stay out of the airport. If they do not “understand”, they will receive “a visit” from the Marines. If they persist in coming to the airport after one month, they will be arrested.
The officers also examined the problem of “many” illegal shops set up inside the airport. These will be closed.
The officers will also target any official who can be shown to have received bribes for facilitating or turning a blind eye to illegal activities at the airport. They will be questioned and may face punishment.