By Anish Chand & Nanise Volau
A lawyer in Lautoka has confirmed that she is a proud owner of a taxi permit after her name was drawn from a barrel last weekend by Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Sabrina Iqbal Khan's name was among the lucky ones drawn at a public function in Lautoka last Saturday.
Although she did not disclose to IB Online her annual income as a key requirement for taxi permit applications was that applicants' gross income should be below FJ$20,000, Khan said her application was thoroughly checked and approved by both the Land Transport Authority and the Fiji Inland Revenue & Customs Authority.
“There seems to be hype surrounding my name being drawn out of the barrel for the grant of a taxi permit,” Khan has said in response to questions we had sent her. Yes I submitted all paperwork requested by LTA and Revenue & Customs, both of which duly conducted thorough checks and approved of my application.
“I provided both my financial status as well as information requested pertaining to my whereabouts within the last two years. I have been transparent with both of these respected organisations,” she said.
Khan says people have been quick to point fingers at her because she is a lawyer, and for assuming that since she's a daughter of a prominent lawyer in Lautoka, she must be a multi-millionaire.
Sabrina Iqbal Khan did not name her father, who is a long time lawyer based in Lautoka, Iqbal Khan.
“If I am to be transparent, I will disclose that I have mostly lived off my savings,” said Khan. "I cleaned council restrooms and scrubbed dishes in restaurants to pay my way through Law School. I believe in working hard as a woman of my own accord."
The Lautoka lawyer signs off her work electronic mail as a human rights lawyer who is a member of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, advocate for Destiny Rescue in Australia and Australian Ambassador in Middle Eastern Affairs.
In a lengthy email to IB Online, Khan said she applied for a taxi permit not for herself but for the sake of three Lautoka based brothers whom she said suffer from a muscular dystrophy condition. She named the brothers as Raveen Kumar, Rajneel Kumar and Arvin Kumar. “Imagine you and I have the luxury of catching a bus to church or walking to the local shop for ice cream. Raveen hadn’t seen a beach since he was ten years old. His brother Rajneel hadn't been outside of his home since January this year.
"I took it on myself to take them out however the difficulties in providing men strong enough to carry them, lift them and place them into a car has been quite a challenge,” Khan told us.
"No one had come forward to provide a vehicle for these three physically challenged men," she added.
“I spoke with LTA twice about how to go about providing a disability vehicle which would provide wheelchair access to disabled person in the community. I was advised to go through the proper channels of applying for a taxi permit as I would be providing a service on call to transport a person from one place to another,” she said.
“I don't intend to source income from disabled persons using the service, but to provide the assistance they need to be mobile as they wish to be engaged in full quality of life. They have that right,” Khan added.
She said she has already written to seek approvals from the LTA to import a specially equipped taxi from Australia for the three brothers.