An off-duty Barcelona city guard intercepted two individuals early Sunday morning stealing a laptop and a mobile phone from a taxi driver while the driver was paying at a gas station cashier. One of the thieves was arrested and the objects, valued at 1,000 euros, were returned to the taxi driver. This type of crime is not new in Barcelona and the drivers of this service have become one of the easy preys of the friends of what is foreign. According to Mossos and Guardia Urbana, the number of robberies of taxi drivers has not increased considerably, but the aggressiveness towards these drivers has. It’s rare a week that one of them doesn’t end up in the hospital after being the victim of some kind of gang assault. On December 29, more than a hundred taxi drivers made a slow march through the Catalan capital. They claimed, among other things, to be able to install cameras in their vehicles. The protest came days after a taxi driver was stabbed in broad daylight outside La Boqueria market.
EL PAÍS has located the taxi driver whose attack marked the beginning of new mobilizations in the sector. Asif Ali was born in Pakistan 35 years ago and has been working as a taxi driver for four years. On December 16, he was inside his car charging a client who was going to get off in front of the iconic La Rambla market. “A cyclist collided with the door the client was about to exit. I soon found out it was a diversion to steal. I went down and talked to the cyclist who was wearing glasses, a mask and a cap. He got nervous and started hitting me. I didn’t notice anything, but I soon saw blood. He had stuck a knife in my arms, my ear, my head, my face and my hands,” Ali recalls. The taxi driver survived the attack, but required several stitches and 16 days off work. Nothing is known about the cyclist who fled down the Rambla. “There are very dangerous areas like Raval, Gòtic and Barceloneta and we, in the absence of tourists, are easy prey. We must not forget that we work with two mobiles: one for GPS and the other for calls”, Alí highlights.
Alí Laaril is 39 years old and has been working as a taxi driver in Barcelona for a dozen years. On October 7, he was waiting for a client on the Rambla del Raval when he was kicked by seven individuals who had just robbed him. He lost consciousness and since then his left hand has been injured. “The police helped me and after four days they were all detained. The problem is that now they are out on the street and they can do harm again”, he laments. “I have two daughters aged 4 and 6, my wife does not have a job and I have my mother and a brother in my care. I need to work and I still can’t. My main fear is that my children will not eat”, he laments. Laarin sees a “shame” that they are not allowed to install cameras inside the vehicle.
Tito Álvarez, spokesman for Elite Taxi, has held meetings with 112. Although the request for cameras does not seem to prosper, he has managed to study the modernization of a button that every taxi has installed since 2002 and that “does not work ”. “This mechanism is mandatory, it is next to the clutch and its installation costs us 1,000 euros. If you are in danger, you touch it and, in principle, from 112 they should geolocate you. In practice it doesn’t work because it’s outdated. At the moment we have managed to get them to put their batteries and look for a more efficient device, although we do not understand the refusal of the cameras, ”laments Álvarez.
Laia Bonet, current president of the Metropolitan Taxi Institute, warned this week that the administration’s commitment is to modernize the connection of vehicles with the 112 but, for the moment, the use of cameras inside cars is not under debate.
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