Phuket cab drivers blockade port

11 Apr 2011

Last Wednesday, almost 200 Phuket taxi drivers blocked the gates at Phuket’s main deep sea port. In what is rapidly becoming a familiar event, the cabbies refused to let cruise ship passengers in or out of the facility in an ongoing dispute over buses and alternate transport being used to transport passengers to destinations on Phuket.     

The luxury cruise liner, Silver Spirit, berthed at Ao Makham Port at 08:00 and two busloads of passengers were able to leave before the taxi drivers shut off access. Vice governor Nivit Aroonrat soon arrived with a delegation of officials and police in order to negotiate a settlement.

The talks lasted until nearly midday and reached an agreement where the taxis would take 250 passengers. The settlement was a bit late in the day as the Silver Spirit was due to sail again in the afternoon.  

The 500 passengers aboard the liner had planned to go to Phuket City and Patong on the cruise line’s buses. The taxi drivers ask for 500 Baht and 1,500 respectively Baht to go to the same destinations.

The cost of travelling from the port in a taxi is equal to that paid in other more developed countries, but many of the vehicles are alleged to be uninsured and not suitable for use as taxis. Narong Kumbaan, the taxi drivers’ spokesman said that the provision of buses for passengers arriving at the port endangered his colleagues’ livelihoods.   

During the past 18 months, the cabbies have cut off port access to cruise ship passengers as well as service personnel on US Naval vessels visiting Phuket on shore leave. Although the frequent blockades are damaging to Phuket’s reputation as a hassle-free stopover, authorities have not managed to resolve the problem. 

Tags: Phuket cab blockade

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