Soldiers in South Korea mostly supportive of cab drivers
May 1, 2008
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — Soldiers in Seoul and Dongducheon say they’ve had varying experiences with on-post taxi drivers but generally support their demand for a pay raise.
Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade at Camp Hovey are among the most dependent on taxis and post bus service. There is little outside the base gate and it’s about five miles to the Camp Casey commissary and post exchange.
Some soldiers said they’ve had trouble calling taxis in the past. Driver courtesy ratings ranged from rude to excellent.
While they didn’t like the idea of a strike, they thought the drivers should get paid more.
“Yesterday, I had to walk in heels,” said Spc. Shaquilla Nobles of the 4th Chemical Company and San Antonio, Texas. “I feel bad about the strike but they do have a reason.”
Nobles also said she didn’t think smoking in the cab was a reason to kick drivers off post, as the drivers said Army and Air Force Exchange Service has done. AAFES was unavailable for comment on that issue Tuesday afternoon.
Nobles said she’s happy to smoke with the drivers if they’re up for it.
Pfc. Akhir Way of 1st Brigade headquarters agreed that the drivers were due for a raise after going eight years with only a negligible increase.
“No raise for that long? That would be like keeping me at Pfc. for eight years,” said Way, of Philadelphia.
Soldiers throughout bases north of Seoul aren’t allowed to drive personal vehicles. At Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, servicemembers ranked E-6 and below are not allowed to drive unless stationed with their families.
Pvt. Gene Godare said he had been waiting 10 minutes for a taxi before noon Tuesday. Normally he only waits a minute or two at that time of day, he said.
He said it takes 30 minutes to walk from the lodge to his barracks, but Godare said he was sympathetic toward the drivers.
“I’ve been here for two years, and I’ve seen [strikes] a lot,” said Godare, of the 19th AG Postal Company. “I’m just curious to see if they’re going to up the wages again because I know they’re not getting paid much.”