Phuket authorities arranged a meeting on Wednesday (September 28), to discuss ways to fix chronic problems caused by intransigent tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.
The chief of the advisory group of the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), Wanta Pummararossukon said the PLTO had asked tuk-tuk and taxi drivers to join in various systems over many years, and had explained to them many times the advantage of being in a system.
Sarayuth Mallam, a Vice President of the PTA said the system would work if the law was enforced and serious penalties levied on any drivers misbehaving.
“We can’t wait for them to be decide they want to join the system. We have to force them to do it,” he said.
Many drivers don’t want to join any form of regulatory system because, they argue, it will cost them money. Also, they say, they will see income drop if, for example, they have to adhere to standard fares.
Mr Sarayuth revealed just how much money drivers make: at least B4,000 a day during the high season (B80,000 a month for a five-day week), and about B1,000 a day during the low season, “which is a very good income for everyday life”.
“I’ve met many locals who gave up jobs such as working as security guards to drive black-plate [illegal] vehicles because the money is so good,” he said.
Step by step, Mr Sarayuth said authorities should push taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to register themselves and their vehicles.
Later, the authorities should carry out regular checks on taxis and tuk-tuks on the road, to see whether they are registered or not. If not, they must be fined heavily or arrested.
Registered drivers should be encouraged to fit and use meters.
“Apart from putting them in a system, [local politicians, police and other officials] must stop thinking about their own interests and giving favourable treatment [to tuk-tuks and taxis],” Mr Sarayuth said, stressing that a deadline must be set to fix the decades-old problems.
Another Vice President of PTA, Bhuritt Maswongssa, told the Phuket News that local business people – or anyone who has trouble with bad tuk-tuk or taxi drivers – can help.
“If you have a problem, don’t keep quiet about it,” said Mr Bhuritt. “Instead, use the legal process to give an example to other misbehaving drivers.”