By Humphrey Carter
A Palma taxi driver was lucky to be alive yesterday and his colleagues united in calls for greater levels of security.
Cabbie Miquel Muntaner was attacked on Sunday, his throat was slit but his assailant fled empty handed.
Angry taxi drivers pointed the finger at the city council yesterday, with Majorcan Small Business Association's president, Biel Moragues, accusing the city council of “being deaf” to the calls from hundreds of cabbies, increasingly worried about their personal safety because of the wave of attacks, for immediate action. Cab drivers want taxis to be installed with GPS satellite localisation systems and for financial help in covering the cost of installing in-car security systems. Moragues also said it is somewhat unfair that the city councillor for transport is also the chairman of the EMT Municipal Transport Company. “There's an obvious conflict of interests and he is only concerned about the municipal transport sector, he ignores the needs of the taxi sector as he doesn't consider a taxi to be a public service.” Biel Moragues added that the city council does little to help the situation “it has given the green light to the new tourist bus, but we're still awaiting news about tourist taxis,” he said. He also questioned why the night buses have a security guard on board, while no night time protection is provided for the city's taxi drivers.
Cabbies have called for an urgent meeting with Palma Mayor Catalina Cirer, not only to resolve the security problems, but also make sure that the council does not start replacing taxi ranks with bus stops, which is what has happened recently in Arenal. They want to also lobby the councillor for transport against going ahead with his plan to ban cabbies from stopping to pick up clients in city centre streets. “We're now being accused of causing traffic problems and jams in the city centre, when all we're doing is offering the public with an important service,” Moragues said. The transport councillor however hit back later yesterday, advising taxi drivers to be clear on exactly what kind of concessions and assistance they want from the council. Alvaro Gijón said he deeply regretted Sunday's attack, but he said that to blame the council in the manner which Biel Moragues has, “is rather strong.” He added that the cabbies' demands, such as the GPS satellite system, are complicated and take time “for example, there are a number of taxi drivers who don't want the GPS system because they think the council will use it to check on how many taxis are in service at any one time. “Sadly, the GPS system would not have prevented Sunday's incident, it would have just sent a message of distress to the police.”

35 -year-old Miguel Muntaner was recovering from a severe loss of blood in Son Llatzer hospital yesterday while police continued the hunt for his attacker.

The tax driver was attacked at 11am on Sunday in calle Fausto Morell by a passenger who he had collected in Plaza Gomila. Just as they reached their destination near Pere Garau, the back seat passenger stabbed Muntaner in the throat causing a deep cut. The cabbie started calling for help and his assailant fled scared, according to the police, and empty handed.

Paramedics first at the scene were not sure whether an important vein or artery had been severed, hence Muntaner was rushed to Son Llatzer. Police were last night hunting for a 1.80m metre tall Spaniard with brown hair, blue eyes and wearing a green and blue anorak.


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