A meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon (October 9) at the Phuket Land Transport Department (PLDT) to discuss the plan to set up organised taxi stands, in the hopes of ordering the taxi chaos on the island.
Phuket Vice-Governor Jamroen Tippayapongthada was set to chair the meeting but was required elsewhere, leaving the meeting to become of a general discussion than a decision-making session.
Currently there is no organised system to monitor and control the island’s dozens of unofficial taxi stands – the drivers of many of which are notorious for charging extortionate fares and displaying bad behaviour toward tourists.
In November last year an attempt to set up a regulated taxi stand in Karon failed because of lack of cooperation from drivers and lack of support from local politicians, and was abandoned.
At the meeting the PLDT showed a draft form for officials to use to check and regulate each taxi stand.
This time around, before a stand is officially approved, the plan is for the form to be signed off by four sets of officials – at district, provincial, police and PLDT levels.
PLDT officer Jaturong Kaewkasi said during the meeting, “The purpose of setting up official taxi stands is to make it easier to control them. At the moment, there is no law to control and enforce the regulations of the taxi ranks. We will use this method to control the number of taxis – it is better than letting them organise it themselves.
“We need to discuss this today, to see if you agree with this method or not, or if you have other ideas to help organise the taxis,” he told officials at the meeting.
The idea received support. Several officials also raised the issue of taxi drivers using public parking spaces as their own “personal” car parks – particularly on the island’s west coast.
Patong Police Traffic Inspector Ekkarat Plaiduang said, “I agree with the principle [of organised taxi stands], and I am still worried about the parking spaces for taxis, but issuing these certificates for taxi stands should not be rushed. It should be difficult to get approval as well, to avoid too many taxis around the town.
“The leaders of each taxi stand should control their stand in an orderly way.”
Weerasak Anekwongsawas, the Chief Administrative Officer at Karon Municipality, spoke about the situation in Hua Hin where he had seen a sign “reserving” three public spaces for taxis only.
“Taxi drivers should have their own stands because some [now] taxi drivers use public parking spaces as their own personal car park. This is messy.”