Phuket blockade wins tuk-tuk drivers reprieve from Russian operators
PHUKET: Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who established a road blockade in Karon last night will take further action if a meeting at 2pm today does not resolve a dispute over Russian tour operators undercutting local prices, the Phuket Gazette was told.
Karon Kamnan Winai Chidchiew broke the news after about 100 tuk-tuk and taxi drivers blockaded the Karon beachfront road at about 10pm last night.
To drive their point home, the drivers staged the blockade right in front of the newly established Karon Police Station.
"Russian people have set up more than 100 tour counters throughout Kata-Karon. In addition to selling tour packages and offering tour guides, these counters offer car rental and laundry services. This is greatly affecting local people's incomes," Mr Winai told the Gazette.
The Russian tour counters have set their prices so low that local tuk-tuk drivers cannot compete, he explained.
"Worse, they are telling tourists not to use tuk-tuks or taxis in Kata and Karon. The tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Karon cannot take this anymore," he said.
The blockade last night choked traffic along the busy beachfront road until Karon Police Deputy Superintendent Narong Laksanawimon agreed to enter talks with the protest representatives.
While talks ensued, the protestors agreed to open one lane to allow traffic to pass.
The blockade disbanded at about 11pm, but only after Lt Col Narong agreed to the protestors' primary demand of closing all tour service counters operated by Russian tour companies in Kata-Karon until a long-term solution is reached.