PHUKET: The future of Phuket as a rest and relaxation destination for US Navy ships is in jeopardy following a blockade of the access road at Phuket Deep Sea Port by taxi drivers demanding sailors use their service instead of a free transport service provided by the US military.
Details of what transpired last night have yet to be fully confirmed, but sources told the Gazette this morning that the blockade lasted several hours and was only broken up around midnight following negotiations between the drivers and police, local government and military negotiators.
The stranded sailors were aboard US Navy vessels USS Curts, USS Vandegrift as well as the US Coast Guard Cutter Mellon. The vessels will be in Phuket from June 12 to 20, with a staggered arrival and departure schedule.
Top local officials were immediately notified of the blockade, which lasted from about 9pm until midnight.
The protesters, which included a number of unregistered ‘black plate’ taxi drivers, set up the blockade when they noticed sailors inside the Deep Sea Port security gate boarding passenger vans bound for Patong.