A team of police officers and military members are trying to fight corruption on one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – Phuket Island. In the last decade a lot of local restaurants, bars and even accommodation facilities ignored the law and built their facilities as they wanted. Now a new task force led by experienced Major Paween Pongsir is trying to put an end to this occurrence.
Mr. Pongsir blames the local authorities for not knowing their job and even for corruption. In a period of 60 days this task unit has locked (and demolished) more than 30 illegal restaurants and bars located mostly on the beautiful beaches of Phuket. Although these restaurants and beach bars attracted a lot of visitors, they didn’t pay taxes, they didn’t have permission to work and most importantly they have violated laws regarding environmental pollution. This means that in the period ahead we can expect even cleaner beaches and more attractive spots for tourists. But this so-called “construction mafia” is not the only thing that worries authorities.
There are also members of what is called “taxi mafia”. These people work in the taxi industry without any license and without control. Very often these taxis have charged tourists with enormous fees. It was exactly because of these people that Phuket got bad name when it comes to transportation. In some cases even a short drive with a taxi was charged like traveling to Bangkok. On top of that, some of the taxi drivers seem to have permissions from the local authorities, but it seems that these permissions/ license were issued by disregarding the current state law. Many of those licenses were issued without any checks and it looks like they were issued only by small number of officials involved in a ring of corruption. The task force was able to catch some of these taxi drivers by sending undercover officers acting as tourists. In some cases the drivers were acting like they were official tour operators for some hotel or some organization.
The latest news from Phuket show increased number of tourists that travel to various hotspots in Phuket and these measures will certainly increase that number even more.