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Junta takes on taxi mafia

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Computers will eliminate mafia control of cab operations at Suvarnabhumi airport, 11th Military Circle Maj Gen Nirundorn Samutsakorn said on Wednesday. 

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Taxi drivers stationed at the airport naturally prefer long, more lucrative rides, but they have to pay someone to find them. Photos by Somchai Poomlard.

Taxi mafia clean out at Suvarnabhumi airport

Online Reporters

Taxi queues at Suvarnabhumi airport will be computerised within a month to end mafia control of cab operations, chief of the 11th Military Circle Maj Gen Nirundorn Samutsakorn said on Wednesday.

Cabs will also be able to pick up passengers at the departure level on the fourth floor, but not park there.

Under the new system, taxi drivers dropping passengers off will be able to pick up passengers immediately, but will not be able to wait for them.

The reforms are part of the efforts by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to improve public transport systems.

Maj Gen Nirundorn said the army felt that the first priority in taxi management should be at the airport, for the sake of the country’s image and to prevent problems such as passengers left stranded on the road, over-charging and drivers acting improperly.

Airport taxis and drivers would be required to register in a computer system at the airport, then the cab queues would be managed by a card system. All drivers would have to accept that the passengers they get, and the destination, would depend on the luck of the draw.

Taxi queue management at the airport had become a long-term problem. Most drivers wanted passengers going a long distance, for instance to Pattaya or Hua Hin when the fare would be 2,000-3,000 baht a trip. But these drivers also had to pay someone to select passengers for them, he said.

Under the new computerised system, drivers accepting short-distance passengers would be allowed more frequent access to the queue.

“It is expected that the mafia system will disappear, as there will be no need for someone to screen passengers for the taxis.

"I would say that we will be seeking their cooperation, but if they do not cooperate some soldiers may be stationed at the taxi queue counter,” he said.

Airport taxi regulars average only two rides per day at the airport, meaning long wait times.

Maj Gen Nirundorn said there were two groups of taxis at Suvarnabhumi airport. The first group is registered and picks up passengers at the arrival hall. There were around 7,000 taxis under this system and about 3,000 of them regularly pick up passengers and they get an average of two trips each day.

He said it was necessary to take care of the well-being of the drivers, who usually pay about 700 baht to rent their cabs and must pay for fuel. Drivers should get at least 1,700 baht a day in total earnings to meet expenses and living costs.

The second group is taxis in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces that drop off passengers at the airport. There are about 110,000 taxis, around 70,000 of them operated by 130 taxi cooperatives and 13 radio taxi operators.

Normally, these taxis will drop passengers at the departure hall on the fourth floor of the airport and are not allowed to pick up customers. Under the new system, these cabs would be allowed to pick up passengers immediately after a drop off, but could not park and wait for a fare.

Maj Gen Nirundorn said there would be no more mafia chasing taxis away on the fourth floor. Cab drivers would have to depend on luck, whether they can pick up passengers or not, after dropping off outbound travellers. If no passenger flags them down, they will have to depart.

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Vocabulary:

access: having the opportunity to have or use something - มีโอกาสในการใช้

average: the amount, level, standard etc that is typical of a group of people or things - ค่าเฉลี่ย, ส่วนเฉลี่ย

computerised: having a computer do or assist in something - ซึ่งใช้หรือคำนวณด้วยเครื่องคอมพิวเตอร์

cooperation: a situation in which people or organisations work together to achieve a result that will benefit all of them - การร่วมมือกัน

cooperative: a business or farm owned and run by the people involved, with the profits shared by them - สมาคมสหกรณ์

departure: leaving - การออกจาก

destination: the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง

disappear: to no longer exist; to no longer be in use - หายไป, สาบสูญ, สูญหาย

fare: the money that you pay for a journey - ค่าโดยสาร

for the sake of: for the benefit or good of someone or something - ผลประโยชน์

frequent: happening often - เกิดขึ้นบ่อย

immediately: happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที

improperly: in a way that is not suited or appropriate to the situation - ไม่เหมาะสม ไม่สมควร

improve: to make better - ทำให้ดีขึ้น

lucrative: earning a lot of money - ที่มีกำไรงาม

naturally: in a way that you would expect - แน่นอน, อย่างที่คาดไว้

neighbouring: located or living near or next to a place or person - ติดกัน, ที่อยู่ใกล้เคียง, ที่ตั้งอยู่ใกล้เคียง

normally: usually; in normal circumstances - โดยปกติ, ตามปกติ

operation: a business activity - การดำเนินการทางธุรกิจ

order: a situation in which everything is well organized or arranged - ความเป็นระเบียบเรียบร้อย

priority: something important that must be done first or which needs more attention than something else - การมาก่อน

queue: a line of people waiting for something - คิว

reform: a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair - การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป

register: to put your name and other information on an official list in order to be allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, stay in a hotel etc - ลงทะเบียน

rent: to pay money for the use of something for a period of time - เช่า

select: to choose - คัดเลือก

station: to cause someone to be in a particular place to do a job - ตั้งประจำ

stranded: left somewhere with no way of going anywhere else - ปล่อยเกาะ ถูกทิ้งไว้

the luck of the draw: the fact that chance decides something, in a way that you cannot control - ตามโชคชะตา

well-being: the satisfactory state that someone or something should be in, that involves such things as being happy, healthy, and safe, and having enough money - ภาวะที่ปราศจากโรคภัยไข้เจ็บ

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