A taxi with the Grab advertisement in Singapore. The company is finding it more difficult to do business in Thailand. Photo: AFP
A taxi with the Grab advertisement in Singapore. The company is finding it more difficult to do business in Thailand. Photo: AFP

A video of a group of taxi drivers harassing a Grab car driver on a street in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, as he answered a call to pick up two foreigners made headlines in the country on Tuesday.

On Monday, the tourists posted a video clip on social media after angry tuk-tuk and taxi drivers surrounded the Grab car driver, kicked his vehicle and asked his passengers to get out of the car. 

The 1.33-minute clip was posted on Facebook with the title ‘Welcome to Chiang Mai,’ and was shot in front of the main bus terminal. The video shows taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers yelling at the Grab driver and telling him to get out of his car.

One of the tuk-tuk drivers then grabs an iron bar out and hits the Grab driver’s door. Eventually the grab driver asks his passengers to cancel their booking and leave the car. The foreign passengers were frightened but left the vehicle. 

According to Supamart Leelaruksakul, the head of the Department of Land Transport in Chiang Mai, this was not the first time someone had used a private car to pick up passenger, which is illegal. She asked members of the public to take photos if they see private cars being used as taxis so shots can be used as evidence.  

The Department of Land Transport in Chiang Mai has asked the Grab driver to identify himself. If he is found guilty of breaking the law he will be fined 2,000 baht. Supamart also wants officials and police at the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal to inform tourists that Grab cars are illegal in Thailand. 

Despite being illegal, it is estimated there are at least 2,000 Grab cars operating in Thailand at present. Taxi fares in Chiang Mai start at 50 baht and cost 10 baht per kilometer. Grab taxis offer slightly cheaper fares.

In Bangkok, motorcycle taxi drivers protested outside the Grab Thailand office on May 17, 2018. They called on the company to stop the owners of motorcycles with white license plates from providing services via the Grab application.

A Facebook user posted a video clip about an incident when her Grab bike was chased and cut off by a motorcycle taxi rider in the Sathorn area. She added that a Grab bike only cost 28 baht, while a motorcycle taxi cost 120 baht to the same destination. 

Of all the Grab services available in Thailand, the only one that is illegal is Grab car, while Grab taxi, Grab express, Grab bike and Grab deliver are legal.