Why taxi drivers striking would be dangerous

St Mary Street, night

“The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, which says it represents about 700 of the city’s 950 drivers, said its members would strike as part of a dispute with the council over fares.”

This is what the South Wales Echo (WalesOnline) reported this week. The report goes on to explain exactly when taxi drivers in Cardiff are proposing to strike;

“Mathab Khan, the association’s chairman, said the industrial action – between midnight and 4am next Saturday and Sunday – would cause “total havoc” in the capital.”

So here we have the chairman of an association threatening to cause “total havoc” – excellent. What a man.
Striking from midnight to 4am on a Saturday night, and not just any Saturday night – a night when the city is hosting a sold-out international football match and a Kylie Minogue concert.

Speaking from experience, taxis can be hard enough to get on a weekend night around kicking-out time as it is – or at least, it was before structured taxi ranks were introduced, now there is a long wait at best.
But under the previous system, where you near-enough had to stand in the middle lane of Castle Street to attract the attention of a car arriving back into the city from the suburbs, there were times when I had to admit defeat and to walk home.

I lived in Tremorfa then, and to get there you have to walk through areas with some of the highest crime rates in Cardiff. Roaming gangs, speeding cars, drug dealers and prostitutes were all things that I encountered and had to deal with on these walks home.

Luckily I never got into any trouble, through being street smart – avoiding streets that I knew were bad news or poorly lit, but mostly this was down to plain luck; I’m sure of it.

Making hundreds of people have to seek alternative routes home at that time of night, most of whom will elect to walk, is just plain irresponsible. With horror stories of sexual assaults in Cathays and others, can Mathab Khan and his members really go ahead with a strike with a clear conscience? Do they serve the people or Cardiff, or do we serve them?

The Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association is trying to make a point, but using vulnerable people as pawns. Could they justify their strike if a person got stabbed, raped or assaulted – because they had to walk home when they would usually get a taxi?

I suppose the advice has to be – if you cannot get a taxi home that night, arrange to walk home in a group, or at least in a pair. Be safe everyone.

Taxi drivers split over strike action [WalesOnline]

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