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Update on Tuk Tuk vs. Grab Confrontation Caught on Viral Video

CityNews – The Department of Land Transportation, Chiang Mai, along with associated organisations, held an emergency meeting following the recent altercation between tuk tuk drivers and a Grab car which went viral on social media.

A tourist to Chiang Mai recently posted a video under the title “Welcome to Chiang Mai?” on Facebook that showed a Grab car being attacked by a gang of tuk tuk and songtaew drivers, forcing the Grab car driver to get out of the car and using force to intimidate the driver. The tourist was also forced out of the car and complained that this was not an experience Chiang Mai should allow to happen to tourists.

On the morning of the 2nd October, the head of the Land Transportation Department in Chiang Mai invited all parties involved to discuss the problem to try to find a solution to this ongoing issue.

The tuk tuk driver in question, 37 year old Rungruj Jinareun, who appeared to be very aggressive on the viral video clip, was warned to modify his behaviour and will now have to face the law. Rungruj defended himself, saying that while he admitted to his actions, he had plead politely all along for the Grab car drivers to follow the law and not encroach on the business of transport at Arcade Bus Station, where the incident happened, but none of the drivers ever listened. He apologised and said that he was very sorry for the incident and for harming Chiang Mai’s reputation, but begged officials to apply the law and finalise the ongoing issue with Grab cars, which he says takes business away from him. In 2016 Rungruj was arrested for a similar incident and authorities warned him that he has not improved himself since.

Pol. Gen. Piyapan Patarapongsitthi, the Deputy Police Chief for Chiang Mai Province, said that this is an ongoing problem which is hard to solve. He indicated that while Grab cars operate illegally due to the fact that they do not register as public transportation with the Land Transport Department, he understands that systems such as Grab are popular internationally and are expected by many tourists. He also said that the behaviour of the tuk tuk and songtaew drivers, their violence and their public nuisance, is also unacceptable as they have often been caught carrying weapons and acting in an intimidating manner.

Later in the morning on the same day, a group of 30 taxi, songtaew and tuk tuk operators with placards and signs gathered in front of Arcade Bus Station to demand authorities to end Grab cars once and for all, citing their lack of legal status in operating.

The officials agreed to follow and enforce the law, but didn’t explain what specific steps they would take to solve the issue.