More than 100 tour bus operators and drivers gathered at the Phuket office of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to voice their concerns on Tuesday (Feb 12).
“After the Chinese government issued travel bans on their citizens because of the coronavirus, a lot of bus drivers now have no work, so we set up this meeting in order to listen to their problems,” explained Phuket Bus Operators Association President Anan Deepraserthere.
Satapon Rakmit, the association’s public relations member, told The Phuket News, “We need help fast. We need more time to pay back our debts and soft loans so we can stay in business and continue to perform bus maintenance during this time.
“At this stage, the big problem is that more than 90% of tour bus operators have not received payments from Chinese tour agencies they cooperated with. Some operators have not received payments for eight months, so we need government to help,” he said.
“Operators are also facing problems with coping with the annual commercial registration fees for their buses license and insurance. Another big cost is the compulsory GPS system required by law, which costs B10,000 to install and around B3,500 per year to keep in operation,” he added.
“This bad situation may last five to six months, resulting in no income. Therefore we want the government to find measures to help,” Mr Satapon urged.
Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) Chief Banyat Kantha assured that Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana was already aware of the bus operators’ plight.
“The Phuket Governor already knows about this. We have collected information from the operators to pass on to the Phuket Governor so he he can find a way to talk with banks later,” Mr Banyat told The Phuket News.