Sunday, November 26, 2006

Third world flavor: Hundreds of cabbies block taxi terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in protest over 'corruption'

Before anyone makes the mistake of feeling sympathy for the Thai taxi drivers who inconvenienced thousands of Bangkok travellers last night with their single-minded, selfish, and totally over-the-top protest, it is good to keep in mind what lying theiving scumbags the majority of them are.

Taxis are supposed to turn on the meter when collecting fares from the airport, not attempt to extort a flat rate fee which is often two or three times the meter prices. At the old airport, due to heavy police enforcement, taxis switching on the meter slowly became the norm and there were far fewer taxi scam ripoffs. Reports from the new airport indicate that the old taxi scams are back. This 'protest' was all about the police trying to do their job, and the taxi 'union' responding like the petty mafia they are.

A spotty bit of leftist reporting from The Nation, with missing facts filled in:

Hundreds of cabbies blocked the taxi terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport last night in protest at a police arrest and ticketing of a driver. [ed. why is this allowed to happen? they should be arrested and their cars impounded]

As many as 300 police were deployed to the protest.

The arrested driver had failed to turn on his meter when ferrying a passenger to the airport from Chon Buri province. [ed. he left the meter off and then tried to extort an exorbitant sum from the passenger upon arrival; the passenger objected, and the police got involved. It should also be noted that the passenger was coming from nearby Pattaya, not the wilds of 'Chonburi province' - a factoid no doubt inserted to make the cabbie's case appear stronger.]

One of the protesting drivers said the blockade demanded justice for the arrested driver. [ed. no, the blockade was a revolt by thugs against a police crackdown on taxi scams. When is the light rail system to the airport going to be ready and why haven't the government officials involved in the delay been held accountable? A great example of the slap-dash and totally thoughtless way Thaksin and cronies 'got things done' regarding ill-conceived mega-projects like Suvarnabhumi airport.]

He said taxis travelling interprovincial routes did not have to use meters. [ed. there are set fares for Pattaya, Hua Hin, and other common destinations, but these are to and from central Bangkok, not Pattaya - Suvarnabhumi. Part of the rationale for placing the new airport at the Eastern edge of Bangkok was that it would serve as a local airport for Pattaya, which is quite near, as well]

The protest organiser, who asked to not be identified, alleged staff at a company that operated an Airports of Thailand taxi concession were corrupt.

They allowed "ghost taxis" to freely pick up passengers at the airport while those who paid Bt50 to enter the airport had to wait "hours" to collect a fare.

Staff received Bt20 kickbacks from each unauthorised taxi. [ed. I somehow doubt that. The real issue is taxis picking up passengers upstairs at the departure gates, after they have dropped off their fare. But this situation only exists because people are actually willing to physically carry their bags upstairs to avoid the anarchy and bedlam of the arrivals lounge downstairs. Much of this bedlam is caused by the taxi drivers failing to police themselves.]

Hundreds of taxis blocked entrances and exits to the commuter area while others blockaded the Thai Airways catering building, causing traffic congestion in the airport compound.