Chaired by Patong Police Chief Col Anotai Jindamanee, the meeting was held yesterday (April 19) at Patong Police Station. Present for the meeting were officials from various government offices as well as representatives of taxi, tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxi drivers. Local scion and head of Patong Development Foundation Preechavude ‘Prab’ Keesin was among the attendees as well.
Talking to The Phuket News today (April 20), Col Anotai explained that the aim of the meeting was that was to discuss service issues with the drivers and let them share their opinions in turn. Another meeting has already been scheduled to take place at Phuket Graceland Resort & Spa on May 8.
“We decided to hold this meeting to gather opinions from motorcycle taxi drivers, regular taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers. We did this as we want public transport drivers in Patong area to be good and welcoming hosts for tourists and provide them great service,” Col Anotai said.
“We would like to improve our service to make tourists more impressed. Also we want all drivers to have good manners, refrain from creating problems or having any disputes again,” he added.
According to Col Anotai's plan, the second meeting should end up with organisation of a special committee to manage public transport issues and solve problems. The committee should include representatives from Patong Police, Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), Patong Municipality, Royal Thai Army, Patong Development Foundation and taxi drivers.
The meeting at Patong Police Station follows the announcement of an “attitude adjustment” session for taxi drivers earlier this month. The announcement was made after two tourists were viciously beaten by a group of drivers in the tourism town on March 28, though PLTO Chief Banyat Kantha assured The Phuket News that the training had already been planned before the violent attack.
“We set up this training for public transport drivers before this incident. Their behaviour needed to be improved anyway,” Mr Banyat said.
Lt Col Santi Sakuntanark, Commander of the Royal Thai Army’s 25th Military Circle confirmed that the military would also take part in the training.
“This training is the PLTO’s job to do, but they don’t have many officers so we are happy to support them in doing their job,” Col Santi said.
Regarding the usual behaviour of Phuket’s public transport drivers, he agreed with Mr Banyat.
“The behaviour needs to be improved for better service,” Col Santi said.
“Our main purpose is to protect our tourism. We will cover the issues of law enforcement, public transport driver’s licenses, parking spaces, being service-oriented when serving tourists and not extorting them, and so on,” he explained.
“We do this to protect the tourism industry of the nation,” he repeated (read more here).