Taxi co-op network petitions Agriculture Ministry on higher energy prices

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BANGKOK, Aug 13 – Some 300 members of Thailand’s taxi co-op network on Monday petitioned the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry asking for assistance to cooperate with Transport and Energy Ministries to tackle higher energy prices affecting more than 75,000 taxis.

The letter from Witoon Naewpanich, leader of the Siam Taxi Co-operative, to Agriculture Deputy Minister Nattawut Saikua was endorsed by more than 300 taxi operators concerned about the high cost of fuel.

Mr Witoon said the taxi co-op won’t adjust passenger fares until the end of this year despite higher NGV or LPG prices so that passengers will not be affected.

He asked the Transport Ministry to consider extending the use of a taxi from nine to 12 years to maximise vehicle use, which will lead to lower taxi rental fee. The group, however, objected to the idea of registering 1,300cc eco cars as taxis, believing that the small vehicles cannot serve passengers efficiently.

The network also asked the Energy Ministry to consider a One taxi co-op, and One NGV gas station project to help entrepreneurs manage energy use.

The drivers also seek a fund of as much Bt20 million, loaned from government financial institutions, for taxi drivers to set up their own co-operatives to help manage members’ informal debt among those without access to other government benefits.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Nattawut responded to the move, saying he will speak with the Transport and Energy Ministries tomorrow after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, he asked cab drivers to follow the government’s One Taxi, One Smile project, in which drivers provide their service to passengers with smiles. The project will start next Monday.

Mr Nattawut said the taxi co-op foundation is becoming more effective and to improve its the quality and service standard for Thai taxis, as well as upgrade the quality of life for drivers and their families.

He also asked the current committee to resign in order that the foundation can be newly registered by the Cooperative Promotion Department. A new panel of committee members is to be instated within two weeks, composed of new or current members.

A fund raising campaign to support the foundation will be organised, with Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Nattawut himself working as a cab driver on Aug 26 from 12 Noon until 3pm.