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Phuket officials investigate foreigners in rental cars offering taxi services

PHOTO: Phuket 101/Willy Thuan

Phuket authorities are investigating a surge in reports of foreign individuals using rental cars for illegal taxi services. In response the Phuket Land Transport Office and the Phuket Provincial Employment Office have restaffed the checkpoint in the busy Si Kor Intersection in Kathu, where a significant number of vehicles travel up Patong Hill every day.

Phuket has long had problems with extortionate taxi and tuk tuk prices controlled by a strong, central cabal who have actively faced out competition or alternatives to public transport in Phuket for the past 30 years.

According to the Chief of the local lad transport office, Atcha Buajan, “numerous complaints” have been received regarding foreigner nationals working illegally as taxi drivers in Phuket. In an effort to combat the issue, checkpoints have been established in popular tourist areas, with inspections expected to continue.

The Phuket Express reports that anyone who wishes to report suspected cases of foreign drivers operating an illegal taxi service can do so by calling the 1584 hotline. Officials point out that being a taxi driver in Thailand is a profession exclusively reserved for Thai citizens and not for foreign nationals.

The authorities appear to be cracking down on illegal taxi services in Phuket, following a protest last Thursday by the island’s officially registered taxi drivers. Over 100 taxi, tuk tuk, and minivan drivers rallied at the provincial hall in the Muang district to accuse so-called “outsiders” and drivers from ride-hailing apps of “stealing” customers.

Earlier this week, officials confirmed they are taking legal action against 4 illegal taxi drivers on the island.

The same enthusiasm for crackdowns on the non-use of taxi meters, renegade taxi drivers and the high, fixed fares around the island, including from the Phuket Airport, has not been evident so far.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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