Indian taxi drivers scared to drive in Australia

Melbourne: Indian-origin taxi drivers in Melbourne, whose vehicles were attacked by a gang wielding baseball bats, say they are so scared they don’t want to drive at night anymore as “no one knows what might happen next”.

A gang of seven men used stolen cars to stop five Indian cab drivers in different suburban areas before attacking the taxis with baseball bats and demanding cash, the Herald Sun reported.

The five attacks occurred in Sunshine, Brooklyn and Laverton North in west Melbourne between midnight and 1.30 a.m. Monday.

Harpreet Singh was driving his taxi through Sunshine shortly after midnight when his car was rammed from behind and a second car pulled up abruptly in front of him.Four men with baseball bats got out of the car in front of him, and began smashing the driver-side window.

“It was terrifying. They were smashing the car and hitting me with the bats also. I leaned to the left side (of the driver’s seat) to avoid the baseball bats hitting me (but) one guy punched me in the face,” he said.

“They didn’t say anything to me, they just smashed the car and straight away asked for the money.”

Singh handed over $150 in cash and his phone. One of the men punched him before the group sped off in the cars. He suffered a bloodied lip in the attack.

Taxi owner Sunny Singh said one of his drivers was attacked.

He said finding people to work during the night were becoming increasingly difficult.

“They’re very scared, they don’t want to drive anymore … no one knows what might happen next,” Sunny Singh said.

He said taxis needed to have an alarm button to call the police.

Sunny Singh said assaults on drivers were increasing, but nobody was concerned enough to do anything about it.

“We report incidents regularly but nobody is listening to us,” he said.

“We have to put a stop to this, nobody wants to work the night shift anymore, they are just too scared to drive,” he told The Age.

Daniel Samuel, a spokesman for the Victorian Taxi Association, said there was a real concern that the latest attacks seemed to have been planned.

“It would appear that these are organised attacks and robberies. It must be bloody terrifying for the drivers,” he said.