OVER a hundred taxi drivers drove to the Transport Ministry at noon today (June 15) and threatened to burn a taxi if Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob did not come out and negotiate with them, Matichon said.
The cabbies, led by Mr. Woraphon Kemkunthod, president of the Public Car Drivers Association, drove to the ministry after submitting a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Government House.
In the letter they asked for a reprieve from Cabinet approval of a draft ministerial regulation allowing the use of private vehicles for ride-hailing taxi service via apps on May 25.
Woraphon said at present there are around 120,000 conventional taxis that have yellow number plates with 80,000 being in Bangkok and 40,000 in various provinces. There are approximately 400,000 taxi drivers with around 200,000 working in Bangkok.
While the impact of coronavirus has made it more difficult for cabbies to earn a living, the stronger impact is from black number plate vehicles offering rides via apps.
He added that in 2013 a cabbie could earn 2,000 to 3,000 baht a day but after the introduction of ride-hailing apps this dropped sharply with some only able to get 100 to 200 baht a day.
Woraphon said that if this law is passed and is promulgated in the Royal Gazette it would lead to half of the total number of taxi drivers having to give up their profession.
He also disputes the viewpoint of Mr Chirut Wisanchit, head of the Land Transport Department, that this regulation is just as it offers an alternative public transport service and moves the industry into the digital age, saying that it is not true.
Although the convoy of taxis had blocked the traffic on Ratchadamnoen Nok road in moving to camp in front of the Transport Ministry, sources at the scene confirmed there was no violence.
Top: Some taxis running on a Bangkok road. Photo: Damien Ayers (CC BY 2.0)
Home Page: More Bangkok taxis. Photo: Alberto Perdomo (CC BY 2.0)