Tourist Police acting deputy commissioner Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal on Wednesday vowed to step up its crackdown on taxi drivers who take advantage of foreign tourists.
Surachet said the Tourist Police has been instructed by the Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, to co-operate with the Land Transport Department on the issue.
Surachet said the prime minister wanted to get rid of unruly taxi drivers because their behaviour damages the kingdom's image in the eyes of foreign tourists.
"It's an urgent agenda item to get rid of taxi drivers breaking the law and taking advantage of tourists," Surachet said.
He said the authorities received about 1,000 complaints from tourists about taxis each month. Many drivers were accused of refusing to use the meter, and some tourists complained that they were charged Bt800 (S$33) for just a 300-metre ride.
"The prime minister has given an instruction that the issue related to taxis is an urgent agenda item that the government must solve," Surachet said.
"Taxis are parts of the country's image. When taxi drivers do bad things, it affects the country's image, because foreign tourists will post on online communities how they have been taken advantage of."
He said the Tourist Police will set up road checkpoints in Pratunam area and at Central World where there are a lot of foreign tourists.
There will also be checkpoints at Central Pinklao, the Southern Bus Terminal and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Surachet said that over the past seven to eight months, police have reduced the problem of taxis refusing to take passengers in Pratunam area by issuing fines of Bt2,000 and suspending taxi licences for three months.
About 1,000 taxi drivers have been fined at Pratunam while 30 to 40 drives have had their licences suspended. Ten were banned from driving taxis for good, he added.