Pattaya cabbies warned not to act against Uber taxis

Pattaya taxi drivers block a black car they wrongly suspected of being an "Uber taxi" in Pattaya beach town, causing a traffic jam. The woman driver turned out to be real estate broker taking Chinese clients to view a condominium. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Police have warned cab drivers in Pattaya to alert authorities if they find taxi services operating illegally and that taking action themselves against Uber cars is illegal.

Pattaya police chief Apichai Krobpetch issued the warning on Thursday after at least 20 taxi drivers gave chase to a businesswoman driving a car with three Chinese clients on Pattaya Sai 2 Road in tambon Nong Prue, Bang Lamung district, on Wednesday.

They mistakenly believed she was an Uber taxi driver. The woman refused their signals to stop and the taxi drivers chased her along the road in their cabs.

They finally blocked in, preventing her travelling any further and causing a traffic jam on that road and in nearby areas.

Before the argument escalated any further police arrived at the scene and took all the parties to Pattaya police station, where a settlement was reached.

The woman turned out to be a real estate broker, not an Uber driver as the angry cabbies mistakenly believed.  She had picked up three Chinese clients in front of Central Marina shopping mall on Pattaya Sai 2 Road and was taking them to see a condominium unit in Pattaya town.

The cab drivers involved in the incident were members of the Loma taxi cooperative.(continues below)

Pattaya police chief Apichai Krobpetch briefs the media  about the incident  involving at least 20 taxi drivers who chased and detained a car driven by a local businesswoman, wrongly believing it to be an “Uber” car. (Photo by Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Pol Col Apichai said the problem stemmed from a misunderstanding and was already settled. However, those taxi drivers were wrong to block the car. If the damaged party filed a complaint, it could be seen as a criminal offence, wrongfully depriving another person of their liberty.

He told them to set their minds to right and alert authorities if they thought they saw illegal taxis. They must not take unilateral action against them.

Uber cars were an illegal taxi service. Uber drivers violated the Vehicle Act by using private vehicles as taxis, the Pattaya police chief said. By law, cabbies must have a public transport driving licence and their vehicles must be registered as taxis.

Pattaya police were working closely with the Land Transport Department to crack down on illegal ride-hailing  services, said Pol Col Apichai.

He would arrange a meeting with relevant agencies and taxi operators to discuss the illegal taxi service and draw up clear-cut measures to solve the problem.

Atthakarn Theerawit, 58, a driver of the Loma taxi cooperative, said the Uber taxis had already cost Pattaya taxi drivers dearly. Unlike Uber drivers, legal taxi drivers had to shoulder rental fees and  pay taxes. Those who purchased a taxi had to invest more than 900,000 baht per vehicle.

Currently, there are more than 600 taxi drivers working in Pattaya.

-The Bangkok Post

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