‘Nobody wants to work in the night time’: Regina cabbies call for more safety bylaws
According to Daljit Singh, president of Co-op Taxi Regina, the night shift is the least desirable shift for cab drivers.
“Nobody wants to work in the night time because it’s very dangerous,” Singh said.
According to Singh, Thursday began as a normal night for his driver, Iqbal Singh Sharma.
Singh said Singh Sharma picked up three customers just before 9:30 p.m. on the 2100 block of Park Street. According to Singh, during the drive, one person stabbed another in the backseat of Singh Sharma’s taxi, and when Singh Sharma turned around to see what caused the commotion, he was attacked.
According to Singh, Singh Sharma suffered stab wounds to the head, throat and chest. The 31-year-old victim is still in an induced coma at Regina General Hospital with his wife and three year-old son by his side.
Daljit said violence and robbery are common occurrences in the industry.
“Almost every night we have a little one, not like this. [Incidents] like this happen once, twice a year,” Daljit said.
The Singh Sharma family had only moved to Canada in the past four months. Singh Sharma was working as a cab driver for only one month before the attack.
His co-workers told Global News Singh Sharma was an engineering professor at a university in India, and he was driving cabs to support his family until he could get his education recognized in Canada. A Go-Fund-Me page has been set up for the family.
Khushdeep, a family friend and fellow cab driver at Co-op met the Singh Sharma family the day they arrived in Canada, as he picked them up from the airport.
He said he’s very upset to see his friend fighting for his life in the hospital.
Khushdeep would like to see the City of Regina pass a bylaw mandating all taxicabs to implement a partition between the driver and the customer. He said that could have saved his friend from the attack.
“I think it should be in everybody’s cab because, not that it was Iqbal, it could be me, it could be anybody,” Khushdeep said.
“Safety is a must.”
The City of Regina mandated fully functioning security camera systems for every taxicab as of May 1, 2015
Khushdeep and Daljit both agreed that cameras may help police with their investigation after a crime has happened but they said prevention must be a priority too.
According to Co-op, camera footage cannot be viewed by cab drivers. Once an incident is reported, a mechanic must remove the USB memory stick which is given directly to the Regina Police Service.
Daljit added that the memory on the camera automatically deletes every 72 hours. If an incident is not reported right away, the chances of solving the crime weaken.
As president of Co-op Taxi Regina, Daljit wants to keep his drivers safe in a province that Statistics Canada reports as having one of the highest violent crime rates in Canada. Daljit said he’s worried that adding partitions could be seen as bad customer service. He said he’d like to see a city-wide discussion.
The City of Regina was unable to give an on-camera interview Monday but in a written statement said:
“The City of Regina is committed to ensuring a safe taxi experience for both passengers and drivers. The City’s taxi bylaw requires that all taxi cabs are equipped with cameras and GPS. The City is undertaking a review of the taxi bylaw. As part of the review, the City is engaging with the taxi industry. The industry has, as part of its business operations, the option to go above the mandatory security requirements outlined in the bylaw.”
Co-op cab drivers said they’ll bring up the issue of safety at their annual meetings. The next meetings are scheduled with the city in early December.
Leroy Aaron Redwood, 20, of Calgary is the accused in this case and has been charged with three counts of attempted murder.Follow @KristajSharpe
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