Tunisia: night-time taxi drivers risk life for a few dinars

Since start of year 600 attacks, nobody found guilty

07 November, 15:01

    Tunisia: night-time taxi drivers risk life for a few dinars Tunisia: night-time taxi drivers risk life for a few dinars

    (by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - TUNIS - Khaled, a 50-year-old taxi driver in Tunis who has spent half his life driving a taxi, says every time he starts a night shift he knows 'I am putting my life in fate's hands'.

    'I was attacked three times, hit once and robbed another.

    And I know it won't stop here. A colleague was attacked ten times and continues to work at night because he has to feed his children'.

    Though he does not like to work at night, Khaled knows what to expect when he drives his new Korean taxi after selling an old Peugeot.

    Taxi drivers are repeatedly attacked at night in Tunis with 600 cases reported since the beginning of the year, one of which was fatal, says Khaled. Nobody has been brought to justice over the cases.

    'It's all for a few dinars, eight-ten at the most', the average price of a taxi fare, about five euros, he said. Taxi strivers in Tunis are few and they prefer to wait for clients in the city's squares or roads, so they are constantly out. The traditional 'essalemou alaikom', a hand gesture, is enough to catch one. But everything changes at night, when the welcome usually given at daytime becomes a grunt and the taxi drivers divides his attention between the road and the passenger.

    Sometimes a passenger refuses to pay, or is drunk and constantly changes destination. Some pull out a knife or gun and rob the driver.

    'Everything changed after the revolution', said Khaled, who regrets the dictatorship of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. 'Back then there was an officer in every road and square, even in highways.

    There were road blocks at crossroads, even with soldiers, along the roads from downtown Tunis to the suburbs. Where have all the policemen gone?' Nobody has been arrested so far, Tunis' taxi drivers say, while they are risking their lives for a few dinars because they cannot afford to do otherwise. (ANSAmed)

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