Taxi scam damages expo
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Taxi scam damages expo

Complaints about exorbitant charges flood social media

An inspector from the Department of Land Transport patrols taxi services at Impact Muang Thong Thani on Friday.
An inspector from the Department of Land Transport patrols taxi services at Impact Muang Thong Thani on Friday.

Complaints about taxi scams at the THAIFEX exhibition flooded social media on Friday as passengers reportedly were charged 4,000-5,000 baht for trips from Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi to Bangkok's city centre.

THAIFEX–ANUGA ASIA 2023, one of the biggest trade events in Thailand, returned for a full-scale exhibition for the first time following the pandemic, occupying 130,000 square metres of space at Impact Muang Thong Thani from May 23-27. According to the organiser, the event drew almost 2,700 exhibitors from Thailand and 40 countries.

With an average of 22,000 participants per day, there were complaints on social media Thursday about traffic conditions around the exhibition centre and inadequate public transport.

A Facebook user said taxi drivers turned away Thais wanting a ride, preferring to take foreign passengers and shutting off their meters, charging 4,000-5,000 baht to destinations on Silom and Sukhumvit roads.

Some online users said construction of the MRT Pink Line contributed to traffic in the area.

According to the government, construction of the Pink Line from Kae Rai to Min Buri was 96.4% complete as of April. However, the Pink Line extension to Muang Thong Thani is 20.4% complete and is projected to finish in 2025.

The vice-governor of Nonthaburi submitted an urgent letter to the Nonthaburi Provincial Transport Office on May 25, urging the office to allocate public transport inspectors to the area.

The Department of Land Transport posted on its Facebook account on Friday, saying it allocated inspectors to the exhibition centre and fined one taxi driver 1,000 baht because the driver refused to use the meter.

The department reportedly rejected accusations that the area is under private management, meaning it could not deploy an inspection team from the beginning.

Pravit Sribanditmongkol, an advisor to the Thai Exhibition Association, said taxi scams are a critical concern for many large international events this year, not only THAIFEX.

He said such incidents destroy the reputation of a country that wants to promote itself as a hub for the Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) segment.

Mr Pravit said international participants might be the main target of taxi scams, but Thai passengers face the issue of overpriced taxis everywhere.

"We're resuming our Mice business strongly after the pandemic, on a bigger international scale than before 2019. If the authorities cannot take decisive action against these crimes, nobody will choose to visit Thailand in the future," he said.

Jintana Phongpakdee, director of corporate communications for Impact Exhibition Management, said Impact is preparing free roundtrip shuttle services today from Mo Chit skytrain station to the exhibition centre to reduce taxi scams during the last day of the event, which is open to the public.

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