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Taxi drivers ‘need weapons’

Needing protection: taxi drivers are “under siege”, according to a senior driver stabbed on his own property during a spate of robberies

Taxi drivers are “under siege”, according to a senior driver stabbed on his own property during a spate of robberies.

The St David’s resident, who asked not to be named, is on the mend, but voiced outrage at the attack on the night of April 9.

“Taxi drivers need to arm themselves,” he said. “These guys are vicious. I got attacked in my yard after knocking off at the end of a long day.”

Struck on the head, he was also stabbed in the shoulder, and is still off work, awaiting tests and the removal of stitches.

Dressed in “dark clothes and sun visors”, the two assailants demanded cash, and grabbed an appointment book from the vehicle before running off.

The man said taxi operators should be extended special protection, such as the right to carry mace spray. He also suggested protective partitioning of cabs, and measures such as installing a silent alarm to alert authorities.

“You don’t really worry about it until you’re a victim,” he said.

Two other cabbies were targeted in separate incidents on April 7, with one struck on the head and robbed while another driver left the scene. Both cases involved what appeared to be a firearm.

The driver expressed concern for women and elderly taxi operators.

“Bermuda’s changed a lot. It’s not the Bermuda of ten years ago, 20 years, even five years.”

Drivers might grow reluctant to pick up groups of young men, he added, or to drive into remote areas after dark — while visitors, especially during the America’s Cup, could be left with negative impressions of an island that banks on its reputation for safety.

In an earlier statement, transport minister Senator Michael Fahy called the attacks “deplorable”.

“These robberies not only affect the drivers and the taxi industry, but tarnish Bermuda’s reputation,” Mr Fahy said.

“It is very regrettable that these important ambassadors for Bermuda, have to put up with this reprehensible behaviour.

“I can see how drivers will take further precautions to protect themselves, including avoiding some areas and more frequently going offline to deposit cash fares for safekeeping.

“It would be unfortunate if it materially impacts our taxi service. This is the kind of crime that could hurt our tourism product as a whole.

“I urge anyone who can help the police bring the perpetrators before the courts, to do so.”