A grandmother has lost her taxi accreditation after she racked up close to 30 traffic offences and asked a blind passenger for directions.
Melbourne taxi driver Hawa Add, 69, has been banned from driving after repeatedly being caught speeding, running red lights and failing to restrain a child.
She has faced court eight times, has collected a total of 27 traffic offences and has had disciplinary action taken against her on three occasions.
On top of her run-ins with the law, she has also drawn several complaints from passengers, at one point asking a blind person to give her directions, failed to use a GPS and refused to accept cash payments.
According to the Herald Sun, Ms Add has been caught speeding 19 times, ran through red traffic lights five times, fails to give way and failed to use headlights.
On one occasion she was even caught failing to restrain a child in the back seat.
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Since she began driving taxis in 2004, passengers have filed 21 formal complaints against the Somali-born woman.
Passengers said Ms Add has insufficient knowledge of Melbourne roads, refused to help a vulnerable passenger with their luggage and asked a blind passenger to look out for street numbers.
She also failed to use a GPS, was caught taking a longer route than necessary for short trips, refused to at times accept cash and on other occasions accept credit cards.
Passengers also reported that the 69-year-old drove in such a way they feared for their safety and was abusive to customers, and other people on the road.
Due to her long list of complaints, VicRoads conducted an inquiry into whether Ms Add should hold a licence, let alone be a taxi driver.
In the inquiry, a psychiatrist recommended Ms Add undertake counselling or mentoring to improve her customer service and driving.
Her cab driver accreditation was first suspended in 2013, and she was forced to do a taxi driving course as well as a customer service course.
Despite the training, passengers continued to complain and in 2015, Ms Add was warned serious action would follow if her behaviour continued.
Ms Add had her accreditation completely cancelled in 2017 following further complaints.
Victoria’s Commercial passenger Vehicle Commission declined to reinstate her accreditation, forcing Ms Add to turn to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
She claims to be ‘courteous and helpful to customers’, assisting them when reasonable, and said she was unfairly treated by both the commission and her customers.
Ms Add, who is a mother of seven and grandmother of 12, has since lost her income, which she used to help support her children.
Secretary of the Australian Muslim Social Services Agency Adam Mohamed wrote a character reference saying Ms Add was good mannered, honest and responsible.
Despite the glowing reference, VCAT senior member Anna Dea refused to reinstate Ms Add’s accreditation.
‘Even if I assume some aspects of the complaints might reflect misunderstandings or exaggerations, the volume and seriousness of the complaints indicate to me that Ms Add’s communication style is not satisfactory for many passengers, and that at least some passengers feel unsafe in her vehicle,’ Ms Dea said.
‘The similar nature and content of the complaints about Ms Add are of concern because they indicate Ms Add has unsettled passengers many times to the point they feel they need to contact the relevant regulator.’