Lao Tuk-tuks and jumbos polish up for 25th SEA Games

Posted by samakomlao Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Tuk-Tuk and Jumbo Association has pledged it will work with its members to offer excellent standards of customer service to visitors in the lead up to and during the 25th SEA Games to be held in Vientiane in December.

Vice President of the Association, Mr Bouasaeng Thidsalath, said on Monday the association plans to let its members attach a sign to their vehicle showing the driver's name, address and association's telephone number written in English when operating during the games.

He said the move is to ensure drivers offer good services, while allowing passengers recourse for complaints if they have a bad experience.

“In the case a driver behaves unfairly or impolitely, customers can note the driver's name and address and call to inform us so we can resolve the issue,” he said.

Mr Bouasaeng recommended that people using tuk-tuk and jumbo services should negotiate a price prior to departing.

At present, the association is working with drivers to ensure the condition and technical standards of vehicles meet acceptable requirements.

So far, about 1,000 jumbos and tuk-tuks are available during the games after upgrades and technical checks.

Mr Bouasaeng said about 1,500 jumbos and tuk-tuks were licensed after owners paid government taxes and registered with the association to operate services during this year.

However, a further 500 of the vehicles still need technical improvements.

As part of preparations for the games, the association last month held a meeting with the heads of tuk-tuk and jumbo stations to inform them of the criteria needed for the event.

These criteria include driver dress codes, vehicle standards, driver conduct and knowledge of traffic regulations.

Mr Bouasaeng estimated about 200 drivers offering services around various hotels and guesthouses are able to speak English at a basic level to discuss prices and directions with customers.

Despite an earlier official promise that the three-wheeled vehicles would be allowed to operate during the games, Mr Bouasaeng said no official letter confirming this has been received by the association.

No confirmation has been passed onto drivers either, with those at Manthatoulath and Namphou Stations in Chanthabouly district concerned whether or not they will be permitted to operate during the event.

There have been some rumours among drivers that tuk-tuks and jumbos will be prohibited from operating during the SEA Games, said a-45-year-old driver at Manthatoulath station, Mr Phonthisack Lanxang.

Drivers at the station expressed their hope to participate in the hosting of such a historic event to welcome and provide service to visitors.

They said it was reasonable to prohibit them running on major roads dedicated for use as transport routes for delegates and athletes to the venues.

However, they should be allowed to operate services on other roads.

“We understand the planning challenges. They don't have to allow us to run on major roads, or even to the stadiums, but we hope to be permitted to run services such as between markets to guesthouses, hotels and restaurants,” said the drivers.

He said they believed it is a good chance for low-income earners like them to earn more during the popular event.

The country and capital in particular expects to welcome large numbers of visitors during the event.

“If we are prohibited, we have nothing to do as this is the only job available for many drivers,” Mr Phonthisack said.

Deputy Director of the Vientiane Public Works and Transport Department, Mr Chanxay Vinavong refuted rumours that the vehicles will be banned from September 1 onwards.

He said exactly where, when and how the vehicles will be allowed to operate during the games would be discussed further with Vientiane Traffic Police.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo

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