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Long term expat Joe Blazy has created a new Facebook page called Phuket Visa Run Ride Share Network to link together expats having to do boarder bounces and visa runs to destinations such as Ranong and Penang.
Mr. Blazy told the Phuket Gazette “some friends and I have been discussing creating some kind of space on the net where resident expats could network in order to carpool during visa runs”.
Members of the new group are not allowed to charge fees for taking extra passengers if they are making the journey in private cars and are asked to settle on a date and then split the costs of fuel and vehicle hire.
The move came after years of reports of visa run accidents that result in injury or death. Mr. Blazy said “ For years we have been reading reports of visa run accidents resulting in injury or death. This coupled with the unanimous reports from expats that drivers drive insanely fast and take huge risks on the roads, such as following too closely, overtaking on blind bends and so on”.
The general reaction to the group so far has been very positive he went on to say. “most people wonder why there has not been something like this sooner. The legality of foreigners driving foreigners has been brought up but I do not see this as a realistic concern. No one is making any money out of this” he explained.
The group was created just ten days after a visa run bus from Phuket crashed in Malaysia. However it was the death of Filipina singer Renita Dequina Polido on October 21st that upset the Phuket community and caused them to raise questions about the requirements for foreigners to leave the country to renew visas every 90 days. Her death came about after an accident early in the morning on a road wet from heavy rain in Trang. The Penang bound visa run bus was reportedly speeding out of control when it hit a tree killing Ms Polido and seriously injuring four other passengers.
Mr. Blazy told reporters that the Facebook group will only exist for as long as necessary and if visa run bus companies take measures to improve safety he has vowed to take the page down. “At the moment it appears there is no concern for safety, an problem not limited to visa run buses. Personally I think the drivers compete with each other to see who can do the rout fastest”. He said.