News / Halifax

Taxi association head says acquitted driver will never drive for any Halifax cab company again

Dave Buffett, president of the Halifax Taxi Association, said if Bassam Al-Rawi ever gets his full licence back, he will have to work independently.

Bassam Al-Rawi in Halifax provincial court last month.

Jeff Harper / Metro

Bassam Al-Rawi in Halifax provincial court last month.

The head of the Halifax Taxi Association says Bassam Al-Rawi “will never drive for a cab company in the HRM again.”

Dave Buffett, president of the association, said in an interview Thursday he doubts the taxi driver acquitted Wednesday of sexual assault against a female passenger will ever get his full taxi licence back, but if he does he will have to work independently.

“All the brokers have discussed it, there has been various meetings and none of the taxi brokers in HRM are willing to let him drive for their company,” Buffet said. “He will have no choice but to go independent.”

The judge’s not guilty ruling Wednesday was a surprise for him, and was a big hit for the taxi industry, said Buffett.

“I’m absolutely appalled. It is justice denied in my view and it’s very disturbing for the industry,” he said. “We are all parents, siblings and family who drive these cabs, and we are all upset. It puts us in a bad light.”

Although there has been a reported rise in alleged sexual assaults by taxi drivers in the last couple of years, the chances of it happening are slim, he noted.

“The rate of assaults is higher than before, I mean one is high, any more is too high, but this isn’t a common thing. Statistically if you look at the amount of calls for rides we get compared to how many sexual assault allegations are made, there is a one in five million chance of it happening. It is extremely unlikely.”

Some cab companies have gone public on Twitter with their stance on Al-Rawi and his driving situation, including Casino Taxi.

“Not with us. No matter what the license & legal status, we believe all drivers must exercise a high duty of care & morality,” the tweet read referring to an article about the acquittal.

Al-Rawi was given a conditional licence to allow him to drive a cab between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but as far as he knows, Al-Rawi is not driving, nor is he working for a company, said Buffett.

“City staff have told me he is not driving, and I’ve been told he hasn’t driven since getting the conditional license. Even if he does start driving, it won’t be for a company.”

More on