Bhumjaithai made legalising ride-sharing services one of its key election campaign pledges, alongside marijuana legalisation.
Party leader Anutin Charnveerakul had reportedly bargained for the transport portfolio, in addition to the deputy prime minister post, so he could implement the policy during talks to join the Palang Pracharath-led government.
Mr Anutin insisted earlier that a condition for his party to join the government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was that all of his party’s policies had to be adopted and implemented.
His party’s presence in the new government has apparently worried taxi drivers. Around 30 of them who represent the network, led by chairman Vithoon Naewpanich, drove their cars to the Land Transport Department in Bangkok this morning to submit a letter to the government through the department.
They also said they would go to Bhumjaithai’s head office later in the afternoon to seek clarification on its plans.
The group, which claimed to represent some 40,000 taxi drivers registered under the cooperatives and another 40,000 with their own cars, had four requests for the new government.
First, there must be remedies for them if the change affects their jobs. Second, legal action must be taken against current ride-sharing drivers.
Third, the Taxi OK programme, initiated a few years ago by the government to help them better compete with mobile application-based taxi hailing services by global players, must be reviewed since it has not been successful.
Lastly, fares must be revised to make them fairer and to reflect real costs.
A group of motorcycle tax riders also submitted a letter shortly after at the department on the same day in protest against the legalisation of ride-sharing services.
The presence of Singapore-based Grab, which provides hailing services for both car and taxi services on smartphones, has changed the industry.
Like their peers in large cities worldwide, traditional drivers have found it increasingly difficult to compete, especially with people who drive taxi part-time using their own cars, which are generally newer, cleaner and in better condition.
They also have faced numerous complaints. Chief among them are passenger refusals during rush hours and meter tampering, which drive more people to turn to ride-hailing services.
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