Taxi operators yesterday repeated their calls for the government to come up with measures to offset their plight if the price of compressed natural gas for the transport sector is increased to reflect the market price.
"We are asking for help if the gas price really needs to be raised [by the government]," said Witoon Naewpanich, chairman of the Transportation Service Cooperative Federation of Thailand (TSCF).
Among the federation's proposals are extending the maximum number of years a taxi can be on the road to 12 years old from the current nine.
They are also calling for a hike in fares and easing taxi specifications for smaller engines or eco-cars.
In addition, the government is being asked to set up a foundation dedicated to the welfare of taxi drivers.
Mr Witoon yesterday met with representatives from the Ministry of Transport, the Pollution Control Department and the Foundation for Consumers to find ways to address problems arising from the planned CNG price increase.
The meeting agreed to set up a special panel to study conditions and proposals they are going to ask for in exchange for the government's CNG price increase.
The panel's study will be finalised within a month.
According to the TSCF's report, a taxi driver earns an average of 1,400 baht per 12-hour shift. Their daily expenses are about 1,100 baht (600 baht for daily rental, 400 baht for gas and 100 baht for food and drinks). This excludes about 500 baht a month per person for under-the-table payments to the police.
The government decided to gradually raise the price of CNG by 50 satang a kilogramme every month for 12 months starting on Jan 16 until the price reaches 14.50 baht.
The price was allowed to increase until May when it was frozen at 10.55 baht per kilo due to protests by taxi and transportation operators.
The government is now awaiting a study by Chulalongkorn University's Energy Research Institute on an appropriate price of CNG the government should implement for the remainder of the year.
Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon said he will discuss the establishment of a welfare fund for taxi drivers with PTT Plc, the country's sole seller of compressed natural gas.
The Transport Ministry estimated that there are 100,000 taxis, 200,000 motorcycle taxis and over 20,000 tuk-tuks and vans in Greater Bangkok.
About the author
- Writer: Yuthana Praiwan
Position: Business Reporter