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Phuket Tourists Trapped in 'Black Taxi' Airport Raid

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Here is another twist to the joys of coming to holiday on Phuket Island ---->

Phuket Tourists Trapped in 'Black Taxi' Airport Raid

By Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Updating News: Photo Album Above

TOURISTS fresh off their aircraft on Phuket today were caught up in a dramatic raid designed to clear ''black'' taxis from Phuket Airport.

As police hauled drivers from their cabs, their passengers, holidaymakers newly arrived on the island, were left to wonder what to do.

''We have paid for our taxi, our tours and our accommodation as part of the package,'' one angry woman on a dive holiday told Phuketwan. ''What do we do now?''

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A driver told police: ''If you are going to arrest me, then please take care of my passengers.''

Two Russian men, a father and son, were in a worse predicament. They were in a taxi when their driver was hauled out . . . but nobody could speak Russian, so they did not understand what was happening.

Similar dilemmas were being caused as the number of arrested drivers grew quickly this morning.

One of the minivans pulled over was from Villa Royale. Another driver in a Mercedes-Benz van told Phuketwan he was working for the exclusive Amanpuri Resort and was at the airport to pick up VIP passengers.

With the first decade of the 21st century almost at an end, Thailand's most popular international tropical holiday destination still has no system for efficiently moving people around the island.

The ''black'' taxi industry is just one symptom of Phuket's need for a comprehensive public transport policy.

It is believed today's raid by police from Tachatchai Police Station, north of the airport, was ordered after tourists complained in Bangkok to the Tourism and Sport Ministry about ''black'' taxis.

The global economic downturn has intensified Phuket's tuk-tuk and taxi woes.

Instead of reducing the number of people working as legal and illegal taxi drivers, the prospect of claiming an easy share of Thailand's highest fares, considered to be a rip-off by many tourists, has enticed more to try their luck.

Without a sensible transport strategy, disputes between legal and illegal drivers and tourists and drivers are likely to continue to damage Phuket's prospects for a future as a sophisticated regional tourism hub.

It is not known whether the crackdown will include drivers who take tourists from the airport straight to a nearby tour and travel agent, where the newly arrived visitors are harassed into taking packages on offer, and the drivers take a commission.

Airport general manager Prathuang Somkhom said about 200 ''black'' taxis operated from the airport.

Source http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-tourists-trapped-black-taxi-airport-raid-11939/

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Phuket's transport system is a mess. I remember when I was there 15 years ago, transportation was crazy and expensive in comparasion to transportion in other parts of Thailand. I decided to rent a motorbike and see the island on my own terms.

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I suppose it did not occur to the police to stop those taxis from entering the airport grounds in the first place, instead of making themselves really popular by not only stranding innocent passengers who have nothing to do with the dispute, but causing them to lose their prepaid fares along with it. They could also have stopped taxis entering the airport with departing passengers and make it clear to the drivers that after a specified hour they would not be allowed to bring passengers to the airport and if they violate that, then they would not be allowed to collect the fares.

Sometimes Thai logic, or lack of same, totally eludes me. Any idiot ought to have realized that a great many incoming passengers would have no way to get from the airport to their destinations. And once they could find a way to get where they're going, now they have to spend their holiday worrying about possible problems returning to the airport. What do the police say to the stranded passengers, sorry? No alternate means of transportation was provided for them? Wonderful idea; let people spend big bucks to come to Thailand, especially for a major holiday season such a Christmas and New Year's, and then make sure they get caught in the middle of this dispute and strand them at the airport. For those people, it might as well be another airport siege.

Thailand has been suffering through a major tourism crisis, and yet everything I have been reading lately tells me that even under the best of circumstances in Phuket, you're going to pay much higher prices for transportation than anywhere else in Thailand. Add to this the possibility of ending up standing in the middle of the road somewhere, with all my luggage, and having no idea how to get where I'm going or what to do. Ok, powers-that-be in Phuket, scratch off another farang from your visitor's list. I certainly will not go to your fair city knowing I stand a good chance of having to deal with these problems once I get there. I suppose you also think tourists who get caught up in this nonsense are going to return home and tell other potential tourists all about the wonderful time they had in Phuket and how highly they recommend a holiday there.

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Sometimes Thai logic, or lack of same, totally eludes me. Any idiot ought to have realized that a great many incoming passengers would have no way to get from the airport to their destinations. And once they could find a way to get where they're going, now they have to spend their holiday worrying about possible problems returning to the airport. What do the police say to the stranded passengers, sorry? No alternate means of transportation was provided for them? Wonderful idea; let people spend big bucks to come to Thailand, especially for a major holiday season such a Christmas and New Year's, and then make sure they get caught in the middle of this dispute and strand them at the airport. For those people, it might as well be another airport siege.

No no Thaimo. There are plenty of alternatives. The airport limos, meter taxis, public bus, shared mini-bus. Plenty plenty of choice and availability. This police check was about the unofficial or black taxis that operate from the airport. These guys have no insurance cover in the event of an accident causing passenger injury, often the cars are not safe or very noisy, they try to sell other services, and they are not any cheaper than the official taxis. It was most likely complaints from the official drivers that caused the police check point. A couple of years ago there was a shoot-out between drivers at the airport, leaving one driver dead.

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Two Russian men, a father and son, were in a worse predicament. They were in a taxi when their driver was hauled out . . . but nobody could speak Russian, so they did not understand what was happening.

I'm sure if this happened in St Petersburg it'd be all explained in Thai? :unsure:

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