Travelers using official taxi services on the resort island of Phuket in Thailand are again at the epicenter of wars between a taxi driver with a work permit and local resorts drivers and “bombs” who divided the resort area among themselves. This time the video of the conflict was posted on social networks.
In the video, a female taxi driver said she was threatened for getting into the car passengers who left a famous hotel in Phuket, The Phuketnews reported. Direct witnesses of the incident were foreign tourists who got into a taxi with her. At this time, a skirmish began between the taxi drivers who lined up for customers.
The incident happened around 11:00 am on Thursday, October 13. The news became public after a video of the conflict was posted on a popular local social media channel on the same day. In the footage, a man was seen and heard talking aggressively to a female taxi driver as two foreign passengers decided to get into her car in front of the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort on Karon's Kata Noi Beach.
It is noteworthy that the woman had all the necessary documents and official permission to work anywhere on the island, including Phuket International Airport. The Toyota sedan even had a SHA Plus certification sticker, as well as a 1584 complaint hotline sticker and the driver's phone number to identify him as a legal service provider.
The conversation developed in Thai. A man who remained behind the scenes told the female driver that she “should not come here again, as there is already a line of local taxis at this place” to serve customers. To which the female driver asked if the hotel forbids picking up passengers. However, she immediately received accusations of stealing the clients of other drivers. “That's right, here's the line. What if I steal guests from your queue… If you don’t believe me, try coming here again for customers?” the man said threateningly.
Later, the Thai woman reported that she had been working as a taxi driver in Phuket for 15 years and had never encountered such incidents either at this hotel or anywhere else. According to her, the incident is not the most serious, so she did not go to the police. However, she expressed her readiness to do so if the conflict recurs.
“Usually the client chooses whether to use a hotel car or a metered taxi. It's good that nothing serious happened this time, the man just yelled at me and forbade me to pick up passengers at the aforementioned hotel again. This incident was not very serious, so I did not report it to law enforcement. But what if I have other clients asking to be picked up from this hotel? I'm worried that there might be another incident. If I visit again and encounter the same problem, I will report it to the authorities. And I would like the government to speed up the training of their taxi drivers to eliminate bad taxis and illegal taxi apps in Phuket,” the driver explained.
The Phuket authorities have not yet responded to the incident, the latest in a series of high-profile cases that have become public amid the revival of tourism. Here are some of them:
- For example, earlier on September 2, four tourists from Israel were at the center of a dispute at Rassada Pier in Phuket. The foreigners were forced to take a local taxi instead of the vehicle they had booked through the mobile app as the local club had a “concession” with the ferry operator. The police ruled that both sides were right.
- On September 28, two foreign tourists were forced to leave their booked van at Phuket International Airport because the vehicle was not “approved” to meet tourists at the airport. Phuket Thailand Airports cited safety as the reason.
- On October 1, a dispute arose between a female taxi driver from the JustGrab service and a member of the local queue at the fel Mar cafe in Kamala. The woman's car was damaged by one of the local drivers during the confrontation. Both sides have been proven wrong.
However, the aforementioned recent cases are a far cry from what happened in 2013, when a US Navy aircraft carrier was at the center of a local taxi dispute. The USS Nimitz crew of 5,500 was forced to use the services of a local taxi club instead of the free shuttle buses previously used by American sailors.
Local taxi drivers physically prohibited any vehicles from entering the port, except those that are “registered” in their club while the USS Nimitz was stationed there. “If we allow anyone to enter here when we do not know who they are, then if anything happens to the passengers, it will be difficult to find the true culprits. We can be blamed for letting them in,” the local village head Narong Kumban explained at the time.