West County Public Forums to Focus on Taxi Driver Safety

October 26, 2006

Author: Tom Lochner

Source: Contra Costa Times


With the fatal shooting of a taxi driver in Richmond still fresh in everyone's mind, the Sikh Temple of El Sobrante will turn its attention to cabbie security Sunday.

The meeting at the temple -- one of several events on the subject in the next few days -- comes two weeks after the death of Musharaf Poswal, 48, of Rodeo. Poswal was killed in his car about 4 a.m. Oct. 15 on Bayview Avenue, near the El Cerrito boarder; the El Cerrito police and fire stations are just across San Pablo Avenue.

Poswal drove for a San Francisco company and customarily parked his cab on Bayview Avenue, where another driver would pick it up later for the next shift, said Harpreet S. Sandhu, a member of the Richmond Human Relations Commission who has urged public officials to do more about cab driver safety. Poswal had parked his cab and was carrying several hundred dollars in his pocket when he was shot, police said.

Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said Wednesday that police have no suspects and no motive in the case. Poswal was a Pakistani Muslim and not a Sikh, though many cab drivers who ply West Contra Costa roadways are Sikh. They and other drivers of South Asian or Middle Eastern appearance are frequent targets of crime and harassment, Sandhu said. Sometimes robbery is the motive; other times, it's hate, he said.

Sunday's meeting at the temple is open to the public. Other cab driver safety-related meetings are scheduled for Friday in San Pablo and Monday in Richmond. Friday's meeting at San Pablo City Hall and Sunday's at the temple are sponsored by the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee. High ranking Richmond police and Contra Costa County sheriff's officials are expected to attend Sunday's meeting, which will include reports on taxi safety equipment such as bulletproof partitions and video cameras. Taxis in some cities, including San Francisco, are equipped with cameras.