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Suvarnabhumi » Deputy Transport Minister set to wipe out taxi queue mafia

Sunday, July 20th, 2008


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Deputy Transport Minister of the new government, Songsak Thongsri, has pledged he will get rid of all influential gangs controlling taxi queues at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports. He said he wants the Airports of Thailand (AOT) to regulate taxi queues with fair practices and collect the profiles of taxi drivers at the queues.

He also plans to allow any taxi drivers who drop off departing passengers to queue up and wait for arriving passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport. This policy should eliminate influential groups controlling taxi queues there, he said.

Currently, taxis taking departing passengers to Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang are barred by some influential groups from queueing and picking up arriving passengers. Only official airport limousines and unauthorised taxi limousines under the control of the influential gangs are allowed to pick up passengers at the airports.

Mr Songsak disagrees with Airports of Thailand‘s plan to set up a new taxi queue at the public transport centre within Suvarnabhumi airport which is a few kilometres away from the passenger terminals, and impose a 10-baht charge on each taxi driver.

He said that after the new Airports of Thailand board took office, he and the board members would visit Suvarnabhumi airport. He intended to wipe out mafia-type gangs and their unauthorised taxi services there.

Mr Songsak also said he planned to revoke the long-standing taxi surcharge of 50 baht that drivers impose on their passengers at both airports.

He said the taxi surcharge should not exist because air passengers paid airport tax and the Airports of Thailand should be able to absorb the surcharge.

However, Chairat Sa-nguansue, deputy chief of the Land Transport Department, said the 50-baht surcharge had been in place since Don Mueang was Bangkok’s major airport and its termination could cause problems.

Taxi drivers said they need the surcharge because they have to wait for passengers at the airports. The surcharge took effect with a regulation the former Transport Ministry had issued in the past. Its termination would have to be approved by the cabinet, Mr Chairat said.

In another development, Asia Security Management Co (ASM), a subsidiary of Loxley Group, expects the new Airports of Thailand board to scrap its predecessor’s decision to halve its 10-year-long security contract for Suvarnabhumi airport.

ASM chairman Sompop Charoenkul yesterday said his company had not delivered on standard security services as contracted because of the airport’s rushed opening but that it had already improved its services up to the contract requirements.

The previous Airports of Thailand board chaired by Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr (one of the Sept 19, 2006 military coup leaders) was negotiating details of halving the 5.4-billion-baht contract but then had to resign after the new democracy government took office.

As the negotiations had not been concluded, Mr Sompop said he hoped the new Airports of Thailand board would not continue with halving the contract value. (BkkPost)


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