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Phuket taxi drivers are revolting – protesting at Phuket provincial office

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Today, the operators of registered taxis and public transport vehicles in Phuket took to the streets to protest against the operation of unregistered taxis and outside vehicles offering services on the resort island.

Over 100 drivers of taxis, passenger vans, and tuk-tuks gathered in front of the Phuket provincial hall in Phuket Town to submit a letter to the Phuket governor Narong Woonciew, seeking his intervention to address the problem of unregistered competition.

The letter presented to the governor highlighted the adverse impact that unregistered taxis have had on the business of registered taxis, passenger vans, and tuk-tuk vehicles that provide public transport services on the island. The drivers took turns airing their grievances and frustrations over the operation of unregistered taxis that have been stealing their customers.

To be clear, Phuket’s taxis are the most expensive in Thailand and have enjoyed a wretched reputation and been the subject of thousands of annual complaints about expensive fares, poor service and occasional violence.

Vice Governor Anupao Yodkhwan accepted the letter from the protesting driver and assured the protesters that the provincial authorities would look into the points raised in the letter and take appropriate action. Adcha Buachan, Chief of the Phuket transport office, also made a similar promise to tackle the problem.

After the letter was submitted and their voices heard, the protesters dispersed, satisfied with the response from the governor and the transport office. Recent years has seen a rise in diversification in app-based transport services, like Grab and Bolt.

For tourists, from the moment they walk out of the domestic or international terminals in Phuket, they’re faced with the machinery of a well-oiled, airport-endorsed, taxi fare rip off. Sadly this is the first and last impression many tourists will have of their visit to the island.

As Phuket continues to recover from nearly 3 years of restrictions, the island’s transport cartels and ‘taxi mafia’ are the biggest challenge to a sustained recovery and improved reputation.

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