PHUKET: The behavior of Phuket taxi drivers is making waves again after a driver in a queue outside a popular pub in Kamala filed a complaint against a taxi service app driver who had come to collect passengers.
The car in question has been registered to provide taxi services through an app, but the car and driver still need to be fully registered with the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) to legally provide taxi services.
The driver has applied and the car has been submitted for approval, but the application is still pending.
The news became public after a video was posted on a popular local social media channel showing two police officers responding to a late night call outside the pub, Cafe del Mar.
The taxi queue in question is the same group of drivers that made headlines in February after a taxi driver angrily berated a Thai tourist couple for calling him a cheater. The incident was recorded, uploaded and started going viral on TikTok.
According to the latest message, a group of three to four men approached the car, which was being driven by a woman.
One of the men in the group then hit the car, damaging the app driver’s car. A legal complaint has been filed against the taxi app driver, the post said.
“I WAS DEFENDING MYSELF”
Wilas Soison, 41, the taxi queue driver questioned by police in the video posted online for damaging the app driver’s car, today defended his actions saying: ‘I I was just defending myself.”
At the same time, he told reporters that he did not hit the car.
This afternoon, Mr Wilas returned to the taxi queue where the incident took place in order to speak to reporters. He was accompanied by Kornphithak Asanasuwan from PLTO.
According to Mr. Wilas, a potential client asked him how much it would cost to get to Patong.
“I said B400…. He said he called a taxi through an app for B200… I wasn’t interested,” Mr Wilas said.
Mr. Wilas did not specify whether the customer was Thai or foreign.
Then a red car arrived to pick up the customer, Mr Wilas said, adding that he could not remember the make or model of the car.
The car turned around to pick up the passengers and Mr Wilas said he approached to ask the driver if the car had been ordered through a taxi services app.
Mr Wilas said he stood in front of the car to prevent it from driving away. He also alleged that the car moved forward and hit him.
“I defended myself and an argument started. I didn’t hit the car,” he said.
Mr Wilas said the damage to the car originated when the car hit him.
Mr. Wilas went to Kamala Police Station and filed a complaint against the taxi app driver.
“I accepted and paid damages at the police station, the case is closed,” he said.
However, police have yet to confirm how much Mr. Wilas paid for the damage to the car, or even exactly how much damage was done to the car.
Mr Wilas called on the PLTO to take action against the driver for illegally operating a vehicle as a taxi, a practice made famous in the Phuket tourism industry over the past two decades as operating a “black cab”.
Mr Kornphithak said the PLTO was investigating the incident and was ready to take legal action against the taxi app driver.
By law, private vehicles are not allowed to be used to provide taxi services, he said.
Following another incident of ‘group taxi’ drivers interfering with a legitimate, fully registered taxi picking up tourists at Ratsada pier early last month after the tourists ordered the taxi via an app, PLTO leader Adcha Buachan has threatened full effect of the law against independent taxi drivers who use vehicles that are not registered as commercial passenger vehicles.
The warning came two days before Phuket Deputy Governor Anupap Rodkwan Yodrabham told a meeting of Phuket taxi operators that Phuket taxi drivers must improve their behavior to help protect the public. image of Phuket as a tourist destination.
According to local police in Kamala, their involvement in the case is over.