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Pakistani taxi drivers are giving free rides to Spanish health workers

Pakistani taxi drivers are giving free rides to Spanish health workers

News Desk
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Being a taxi driver these days is a high-risk job. But on top of their regular work, along with 195 Pakistanis in Barcelona, Sheraz Syed provides free rides to healthcare staff in the city.

The initiative started at the beginning of Spain’s lockdown, in mid-March, as six Pakistani taxi drivers led by Shahbaz Ahmed discussed how medical workers would be able to return at night to their homes. Since then, their effort has expanded to about 200 volunteers, including some drivers from other nationalities. They started by sharing their contact details with hospitals and organised their schedules to cover the city centre and more remote facilities, such as the Can Ruti Hospital.

How are the drivers keeping safe?

The drivers follow preventive measures: they wear masks, gloves and have disinfectant gel in their cars. None of the people in the group have the virus, but there have been previous cases of Pakistani taxi drivers with COVID-19. Five are reported to be recovering in hospital. “It’s frightening when your workmate is at the hospital. Some are my friends and they have eaten in my house,” said Syed. “There is always a risk.” In an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) has limited taxi traffic to 20 percent each day and each driver is allowed to work once a week.

About 43,000 Pakistanis live in Barcelona, and almost 89,000 in Spain overall, according to the Spanish Statistical Office.

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