A spate of vicious attacks on taxi drivers in Broome, which have resulted in significant damage to the town’s only wheelchair taxi, has forced some staff to quit their jobs.
Kimberley Taxi Accord chairman Ray Crabb and operator of Chinatown Taxis said he had “had enough” of the town’s youths, who he said were responsible for targeting taxi drivers with rocks while they were working night shifts.
Mr Crabb said while it had been going on for years, the situation had escalated dramatically and was putting drivers’ lives at risk.
“It’s attempted murder,” he said.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed…something needs to be done.”
On Saturday, June 2, Mr Crabb said one of his drivers was assaulted and ended up in hospital after he was hit from behind and had his hand bitten.
As a result, Mr Crabb said two staff members quit on the spot because they had “had enough” of the abuse.
In a separate incident, the town’s only wheelchair taxi, which was frequently used by aged care residents from Germanus Kent, had two windows smashed by offenders on different occasions.
Germanus Kent facility manager Andrew McGaw said the wheelchair taxi was a “critical resource” for anyone who was wheelchair-bound in the community, and incidents such as this meant people would be housebound as a result. Mr Crabb said incidents were getting worse as youths frequently ambushed taxis during night shifts.
It was causing drivers to avoid certain areas in the town, including Anne Street, Nightingall Drive, Torres Place and the Broome cemetery.
Since operating Chinatown Taxis, Mr Crabb estimated the company has succumbed to around $20,000 worth of damage and felt “let down” by police.
Roebuck Taxis owner Mick Williamson said incidents like rockthrowing had been going on for more than 10 years and were “part of the business”.
Mr Williamson said the situation would not change unless police had the power to use “dogs and helicopters”.
Pearl Town Taxis co-owner Maureen Maddasford said taxi operators needed to arrange a meeting with police, the Department of Transport and youth groups, including Helping Young People Engage, to resolve the issue.
Broome Police were contacted for comment.