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Finland's first Somali MP warned against public transport after threats

Wednesday May 4, 2022

The Left Alliance MP took more taxi trips than any other legislator as he had been instructed not to take public transport because of security concerns.

Suldaan Said Ahmed (Left) became Finland's first Somali-born MP in September 2021. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Left Alliance Member of Parliament Suldaan Said Ahmed has promised to reimburse Parliament for the cost of taxi trips that are not directly related to his duties as an MP.

The issue came to light when tabloid Iltalehti compared the taxi journeys of MPs on the parliamentary taxi card during the period from September 2021 to March this year, and found that Said Ahmed's bill was the highest. The newspaper further noted that Parliament had instructed Said Ahmed to take taxis because of concerns for his safety.

Parliament's Director of Administration Pertti Rauhio confirmed to Yle that Said Ahmed had been told to use taxis instead of public transport, adding that the instruction was based on a security report by authorities. Rauhio further noted that this was the first instance of its kind when an MP was advised not to take public transportation because of security concerns.

Said Ahmed's taxi bill for the period from September 2021 to March 2022 was around 6,500 euros, totalling 212 trips, some of which he admitted could have been classified as leisure trips.

"Moving forward, I will pay for my leisure taxi trips myself," Said Ahmed wrote in a tweet responding to the Iltalehti article.

The next highest taxi bill after Said Ahmed was Olli Immonen (Finns), whose 86 trips amounted to a total of roughly 6,400 euros.

"During the Covid period, Parliament instructed MPs to avoid using public transport. All my taxi trips have been business trips. My taxi bill consists of a long commute in the Helsinki metropolitan area and a trip home from Oulu Airport," Immonen told Yle News.

Immonen and Said Ahmed spent over 1,500 euros more on taxi trips than the third MP on the list, Markus Lohi of the Centre Party.

MPs are entitled to use a taxi to carry out their duties—in theory without limits— as long as the travel takes place in the Helsinki metropolitan area and the trip costs less than 70 euros. Outside this area, MPs are able to use taxi trips between their home and the nearest airport, train, or bus station if transport connections are poor or the use of a taxi is justified for scheduling reasons.


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