By The Nation
At the same time, a large group of Bangkok cabbies crowded outside the Bhumjaithai Party head office to petition party leader Anutin Charnvirakul to provide remedial aid in the likely event that Singapore-based Grab Taxi’s operations in Thailand are legalised.
The two groups’ moves were in response to recent comments made by two high-profile individuals.
DLT deputy director-general Kamon Buranapong had on June 20 said his agency was prepared to push for the legalisation of Grab services and set up a legal team to study the feasibility of amending related regulations and laws to that effect, as per the incoming transport minister’s policy under the new government.
Anutin had earlier commented about one of Bhumjaithai’s executives being on a list to serve as transport minister, and had said that the party would push for ministerial regulations to support the legalisation of Grab services as it had promised during the pre-election period.
Chalerm Changthongmadan, chairman of the Hired Motorcycle Taxi Drivers Association, led 30 of his members to submit a petition at the DLT head office via deputy director-general Jantira Burutpat, calling for clarity regarding the preparation of remedial measures for motorcycle taxi drivers affected by such legal moves.
“We have been cooperating with the authorities over the past five years, but our repeated calls for help to tackle the issue of illegal services by Grab have got no concrete response... Now, with the new government still in the making and not yet official, the Department of Land Transport told the press that they’re ready to respond to the new policy,” he said.
“Instead of enforcing the law on the wrongdoers, the DLT went ahead to amend regulations to benefit the foreign investors who broke the law and created disunity among Thais,” he added.
Jantira said she would take the association’s petition into consideration, but insisted that people were wrong in their belief that officials had turned a deaf ear to this issue.
Officials in related agencies have been studying the overall impacts on taxi and motorcycle-taxi operations, as well as on passengers, to ensure benefits and justice for all sides, she explained.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Taxi Cooperatives Network chairman Withoon Naewpanich led a large number of members to camp outside the Bhumjaithai Party head office and submit their own petition to Anutin, via party official Suriyong Hunthasarn.
The petition called for remedial measures for taxi drivers who would be negatively affected by the legalisation of Grab Taxi.
Suriyong said he would pass the group’s petition to Anutin as soon as possible, as the party was willing to hear inputs from all sides in order to create useful policies.
Withoon said the DLT and police had on many occasions also failed to offer clarity about this issue.
However, if Bhumjaithai – whose representative was expected to serve as transport minister in the new Cabinet – offered clarity in regard to taxi-service development, his group would be willing to cooperate in order to boost customer satisfaction, as long as cabbies also had appropriate incomes that covered their costs.
If the Grab Taxi service-legalisation policy negatively affected cab drivers, there must also be remedial measures to assist them, he insisted.
The group had earlier in the day submitted a petition to the DLT, and intended later to petition Palang Pracharath leader Uttama Savanayana, whose group of politicians would soon be the core political party supporting General Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister in the next administration.