PATTAYA – Authorities are threatening to double or triple fines against warring Pattaya public-transport drivers, saying vigilante violence against smartphone-enabled ride-sharing services must end.
Manote Chanwattanasin, inspector general of the Chonburi Land Transport Department, called a meeting Sept. 27 with police, Pattaya administrators, and Banglamung District officials for taxi co-operatives to discuss the latest salvos in the “Uber war”.
The confab was prompted by two videos posted to social media showing taxi drivers either fighting or angrily confronting drivers getting business from Uber Technologies Co.’s or GrabTaxi PTE’s apps.
The former’s UberX and the latter’s GrabCar discount services have been declared illegal in Thailand as they utilize privately registered cars driven by people without commercial driver’s licenses.
Operating almost with impunity in Bangkok for years, both services have been subjected to repeated incidents of vigilante justice and guerilla warfare by Pattaya co-op taxi drivers who, until the ride-sharing services arrived in Pattaya, had earned a dismal reputation for repeatedly overcharging customers.
Seeing the business being eaten by fairly priced, dependable competitors, the drivers have fought back, blockading vehicles and threatening violence against the private drivers.
Uber drivers already face 2,000-baht fines if caught by police. But Manote said those fines could be doubled or tripled for repeat offenders, with driver’s licenses suspended for three months.
He added, however, that taxi drivers involved in vigilante incidents also will be severely punished with heavy fines and licenses suspended as well.
He vowed that penalties will continue to increase until the violence stops.