By Charles Sercombe
The recent robbery and murder of a Bengali-American taxi driver has stirred up safety concerns in the community.
About 50 members of the Bengali community met Sunday evening at Aladdin Restaurant with Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and Detroit police officials.
Hamtramck resident Joynul Islam, 60, was recently shot and killed in his taxi while dropping off a passenger in Detroit. He worked for Checker cab, as do many in the local Bengali community.
Apparently, the passenger refused to pay and an argument broke out. Islam was then shot. The suspect was later arrested, and is awaits trial.
Islam left behind a wife and seven children.
The organizer of the meeting, Dr. Nazmul Hassan, said it is hoped the get-together will be the beginning of a “dialogue” with public safety officials.
“When they (taxi drivers) go out, they don’t know if they will come home safely,” Hassan said.
Many of the drivers, he added, are the “sole bread winners” for their families.
One of the key problems, said one community member, is the number of illegal guns in the city.
“Control guns, and save our lives,” the speaker said.
Another community member pointed out another problem: the taxi service is a cash business – unlike Uber and Lyft drivers, who are paid strictly via credit card.
Uber and Lyft customers are also registered with the companies – meaning their identities are already known by the drivers, so that there is less risk of being robbed.
While those drivers don’t face the dangers of taxi drivers, they complain of being grossly underpaid.
One hitch against turning away from cash payments for taxi drivers is that many in Detroit do not have credit cards, and don’t qualify for one.
Another suggestion from the meeting was to force cab companies to install cameras in the vehicles, as a way to deter criminal action. That, of course, would be up to the individual cab companies to agree to.
June 28, 2019