Police, immigration officers crackdown on Brisbane taxi drivers

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Brisbane (Australia), June 11 (ANI): Police in the Ann St, Fortitude Valley of Brisbane have launched a major crackdown on taxis and their drivers, most of them of Indian origin.

According to The Courier-Mail, dozens of officers closed down parts of Fortitude Valley after 7 p.m. Thursday, in a major operation targeting defective vehicles, breathalysing drivers and reviewing immigration details.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said on Thursday night that four transport officers had joined the operation to check for defective vehicles and to verify taxi licences.

Immigration officers were also on the scene, checking the visa status of drivers.

The crackdown comes only days after hundreds of drivers held protests at Brisbane Airport over working conditions. Their complaints included inadequate waiting zones at Brisbane Airport and alleged rough handling by both federal and Queensland police.

Within hours of the operation beginning, officers had put at least one driver off the road for a defective vehicle.

The seven-hour operation also targeted heavy vehicles using the nightclub precinct.

Five days ago, about 45 Indian cabbies staged a protest at Brisbane International Airport over discrimination by the authorities.

Protests spread from the airport into the city and the Normanby Hotel as drivers locked their cabs and refused to take passengers.

A driver who contacted The Courier-Mail then said they were "protesting about everything""".

"Parking tickets are being issued if we stop against yellow lines waiting our turn in the queue and Indian drivers are being disadvantaged,""" he said.

"Anytime we do the slightest thing wrong we're reported to supervisors. It's unfair."""

He alleged an Australian Federal Police officer physically pushed a driver when he refused to move on.

The driver said cabbies were also fed up with being soft targets for criminals with three of them robbed or assaulted on the weekend.

In the worst attack at Albion in Brisbane"s inner north, a driver was hit in the face with an iron bar.

Police have released security images of the offender in the hope of identifying the man.

Sunday night"s strike at Brisbane Aiprort involved hundreds of drivers and was sparked by accusations of police violence and anger over unfair traffic infringements.

Hundreds of passengers looking to go home were left stranded when drivers from Yellow Cabs and Black and White Cabs refused to work.

The mob of frustrated taxi drivers complained police were moving them on from the "taxi call forward area'' off Moreton Drive and booking them when they parked against yellow lines while waiting for a spot in the line.

Brisbane Airport transport services manager Fiona McKenna then had the drivers to move on and said she would meet with them. (ANI)

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