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Phuket airport spotlights taxi driver drug tests

Phuket airport spotlights taxi driver drug tests

PHUKET: Taxi drivers at Phuket International Airport underwent random drug tests yesterday (Jan 25) as Phuket Airport Deputy Director Manat Sotharat presided over the opening ceremony of the ‘White Airport Project 2023’.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 26 January 2023, 09:23AM

The project aims to “prevent and suppress individuals or groups of people operating in the manner of exploiting tourists or users at Phuket Airport”, Mr Manat said.

The campaign involves the support of 10 law-enforcement and government agencies, including Sakhu Police, Tourist Police Region 3, Phuket Airport Immigration, Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), Thalang District Office, Mai Khao Tambon Administrative Organisation (OrBorTor, Sakhu OrBorTor and Airports of Thailand (AoT), which operates Phuket airport.

“The project aims to ensure the safety of, and boost confidence among, tourists and other public taxi service users, and to reduce accidents within the area of Phuket Airport. The campaign also aims to promote tourism to Phuket, create a good image for Phuket airport and Phuket province, and to deter drivers from being involved with drugs,” Mr Manat said.

“Currently, there is a large number of both Thai and foreign tourists coming to use the service at Phuket airport. It is expected that throughout the year 2023, more tourists will travel,” he said.

“In order to maintain safety and to build confidence for tourists, Phuket airport therefore has organised this project. It is good that various agencies have cooperated in random drug urine testing of drivers who come to serve tourists at Phuket airport to ensure safety and confidence in the use of taxi services, including preventing and deterring persons in the manner of seeking benefits from tourists or service users at Phuket airport,” Mr Manat concluded.

The ‘White Airport’ project was initially launched in July last year, with taxi drivers to test negative having a sticker of a white star attached to the windscreen of their car.

C and C Marine

However, so far no drivers have been reported as testing positive for drugs through the ’White Airport’ campaign, despite one airport taxi driver, Jirasak Raiyai, 33, being charged for drug use after a road rage incident in Kathu in October.

In that incident, the PLTO took immediate action and announced the next day that Jirasak‘s driver’s licence had been revoked.

In terms of preventing drivers exploiting tourists at the airport, the authorities at Phuket airport have maintained “security” as the reason why independent drivers who operate through apps such as Grab and Bolt are not permitted to pick up passengers at the airport ‒ despite no suh “security” incidents involving independent taxi drivers ever being reported.

The current “understanding”, as evidenced in practice, is that independent taxi drivers who operate through an app are allowed to drop passengers off at the airport, but not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport.

Meanwhile, the only taxi drivers who are allowed by AoT Phuket to pick up passengers at the airport pay millions of baht through a concession for the exclusive rights to pick up passengers at the airport.

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Kurt | 27 January 2023 - 07:19:11

Testing for mental illness and - capacity is a good idea. Besides that, many things they do or not do as other people do originates from their knowledge/feeling that they are Phuket's 'Untouchables'. Daily proven around us on Phuket.

Capricornball | 26 January 2023 - 18:36:44

Many of these also need to be tested for mental illness and overall mental capacity. The things they do on a regular basis are certainly cause for concern. The only solution I see to rein in the cartels is to call in the Army and open up the market to licensed drivers that can pass a stringent test. If nothing is done, the cartels will remain a steady source of bad press for Phuket

Capricornball | 26 January 2023 - 16:01:48

As long as the PLTO and their cohorts at the RTP are involved, this is nothing but a toothless dog and pony show. The main intent here is to magically find that nobody tests positive for drugs, and presto, another press party to show the people how taxis are now safe and respectable (when we all know they are neither). Only the "officials" actually think people believe this nonsense.

Kamala Pete | 26 January 2023 - 11:03:35

Are there any international airports outside of Thailand that charge kickbacks to allow taxis access?   

Kurt | 26 January 2023 - 10:40:56

Sweet service propaganda talks of mr Manat. Still stands the fact that AoT Phuket Airport 'understanding' is very strange. Taxis allowed to drop passengers, but not allowed to pick up passengers. And such cartel ( money-money) practise at a International airport? Ever checked or airport management perhaps is unusual wealthy? On what is this discrimination based, more than on pocket filling...

JohnC | 26 January 2023 - 09:29:34

Instead of random testing which can easily be cheated on, why not make it mandatory they EVERY driver must take a drug test at the start of their work shift? That would instill a lot more confidence for ost people.


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