BBA heaps criticism on Transport Board about Ritchie’s Bus
During their 90-minute press conference this morning, the Belize Bus Association also called out the Transport Board for their decision to not only discontinue the runs by Ritchie’s Bus to Placencia, but the speed in which those same runs were awarded to its competitor, Floralia. BBA President Thomas Shaw explained why he thinks the decision was underhanded and undermining. Shaw, who sits on the board, says this decision came as a surprise.
Thomas Shaw, President, Belizean Bus Association: “When Mr.Ritchie’s runs were taken away I sat there, the minister was in that meeting and they came up said they were gonna give him a letter, they said they were gonna send him a letter but I dialogued and said give Mr.Ritchie a chance for him to redeem himself. When Mr. Ritchie did get that letter the letter that he received was for him to cease and desist operations on the 13th of February which we didn’t agree to. Lo and behold I have documents here and I didn’t print this this is the government printed the gazette, this is the government gazette, we held meeting on the 12th but this gazette is showing where this man applied on the 10th and we held meeting on the 12th and I’m a member of the transport board and I wasn’t privy to this. It’s the first I’m actually seeing it when I went and I bought this gazette. So the Minister is saying he’s trying to fix the system, there’s no way you can fix the system if you’re part of the problem. For the past two years I have another document here. They said they want to upgrade, I have document here that I sent to them and this document says we are asking for, we were talking about the high rise in fuel, we’re talking about better terminals, we’re talking about bus stops, at the end of the day he’s giving us a mandate but as much as the people deserve a better service or newer buses you must understand that you need to put the infrastructure in place.”
BBA Secretary, Ewart Metzgen also added that the problems that this decision has caused – and others like it – are only adding to the frustration of the traditional operators. He also explained that there are many partisan political undercurrents, which only are making matters worse.
Ewart Metzgen, Secretary, Belizean Bus Association: “That whole fiasco happened whereby they started selling out the assets of the Novelo Family and they had to call back on us same little operators that we are right now they’re talking about old buses. We kept this country moving. Now you’re talking crazy and telling us about our old buses ? You all don’t appreciate what we do for you. And for years we’re telling those people we want to upgrade and what we need to upgrade and it goes through one ear and comes through the next one. They look at us like we’re insignificant, like we are nothing. But why ? Because we are black people ? Because we are Kriol ? We can’t give them anything ? We want to improve, we’re telling you what we need to improve. If they give us what we want we will show you all we can do better but without giving us what we’re asking for it can’t be done. On my right here we have a young up and coming politician I am asking for him to look and see what is taking place and if when the time comes that he gets elected in office that he does better than what is happening now. Because this can’t continue. You want the industry improve ? Give us what we’re asking for ? We’re not asking you for anything you can’t give us. The transport board is already set up and structure for you to do what we’re asking you for. It just means that you all will have less people or less puppets on the transport board to dictate to to tell them to do your bidding.”