Taxi customers asking for white drivers, says Nat MP

Last updated 00:41 29/12/2008

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Christchurch taxi companies are fielding calls from customers requesting white drivers, a National MP says.

Nicky Wagner says she has spoken to several taxi drivers and company owners since the brutal slaying of Afghan driver Abdulrahman Ikhtiari earlier this month.

"Several said they had people call who only wanted white drivers," she said.

"You can say it's a racist comment or say there's a perception by the public that ethnic drivers don't know the city as well so they end up driving longer to get to their destination."

Wagner said the companies, who did not want to be identified, believed it was a racial issue and always told people they could not assign drivers according to their ethnicity.

She said she had heard horrendous stories of the abuse taxi drivers suffered, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

"They are appalling stories; some have scars from the knives used on them."

She said there needed to be better communication between drivers and the police.

Incidents often happened during the busiest times for police, so they could be difficult to follow up immediately.

"There are a large number of immigrants working in the taxi industry, bars and restaurants, dairies and service stations," she said.

"They work at night, generally lowly paid and serving the community, and are getting abused, and it's not good enough."

 

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- The Press

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