Taxi driver fined for refusing to take blind passenger

  • Manchester cabbie fined £600 for refusing to take guide-dog

A taxi drive in Manchester has been fined £600 after he refused to pick up a blind passenger with their assistance dog.

Rossendale Hackney carriage driver, Taiwo Osazuwa, 59 of New Moston, Manchester, had been booked to pick up a the blind passanger from ASDA in Eastlands last summer, on 3 June 2016.

After arriving at the collection point, Osazuwa refused to allow the passenger into his car after seeing the assistance dog.

This refusal contravened the Equality Act 2010, which specifically requires taxi and private hire drivers to carry guide dogs (and other assistance dogs).     

At the time of the incident, Osazuwa was working for a private hire operator, and the operator had been made aware of the assistance dog when the initial booking was taken. This information was even passed on to Osazuwa before he was dispatched. 

Following the incident, the blind passenger contacted another private hire company, who dispatched a vehicle and collected them without any hassle.

Osazuwa appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court on Wednesday 15 February 2016, where he pleaded not guilty. After hearing evidence from both sides, the court found Osazuwa guilty, ordering him to pay a fine of £65 along with costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £35. 

Osazuwa holds a Hackney carriage licence with Rossendale Borough Council, although in this instance he was working for a private hire firm from Manchester. Rossendale Borough Council will now invite Osazuwa to a hearing to assess his ability to continue to hold a hackney carriage driver licence.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council executive member for neighbourhoods said: “We expect the highest standards from all taxi and private hire drivers operating in Manchester and will not tolerate anything less that exemplary behaviour.

“Assistance dogs are indispensable for many people with visual impairments allowing them a level of independence that might otherwise be impossible – so it is vital that both Hackney and Private Hire vehicles allow passengers with assistance dogs. 

“I hope the severity of this fine reminds all drivers of their responsibilities. Unfortunately, this problem often goes unreported, so I’d ask that anyone who has faced a similar issue to report it to us.”