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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Providing for the safety of cabbies

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, taxi drivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be murdered on the job. The recent murders of Twin Cities area cabbies Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Ahmed confirms how vulnerable cabbies are to robbery and murder. Providing a safer work environment for Twin Cities area taxi drivers is necessary, but who will pay for the protective measures?

The two on-the-job murders have sparked Somali taxi drivers – like a significant portion of Twin Cities area cabbies, both Salah and Ahmed were Somali – to call for the installation of crime prevention technologies in Minneapolis taxis. Nominated technologies include cameras, bulletproof partitions and Global Positioning Systems.

While implementation of these technologies would make cabbies safer, installation would cost cabbies and taxi companies dearly. Self-employed taxi drivers, many of whom are Somali and barely turn a profit in the cutthroat market, would be particularly pressed to afford these technologies.

Where will the money for necessary safety upgrades come from? Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has not offered any city money toward the improvement of taxi driver safety. Other public monies will not be forthcoming due to the present economy and a state budget crunch. In one positive development, the Red & White Taxi company – Salah’s employer – decided to install cameras in its 45-car fleet.

In the end, it appears cabbies and taxi companies will have to finance safety improvements themselves if they are to be implemented at all. To capture the funds necessary for safety improvements, Twin Cities area cabbies will need to raise fares. However, given the ease of entry into the taxi industry and its general competitiveness, higher cab fares will be hard to sustain. This is where enlightened public leadership can help without spending a dime of public money. Metro-area officials, after instituting a minimum cab fare that is sufficient to fund safety improvements in taxis, could mandate that cabbies themselves finance the installation of safety apparatus in their taxis.

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