Floralia’s Future Hangs in the Balance as Belize High Court Quashes South Road Permits
Tonight, Floralia’s future is on life support after the Belize High Court ordered that its road service permits for the south be quashed. Back in March 2022, the Belize Bus Association, James Bus Line, and Griga Bus Line, through their attorney Senior Counsel Dean Barrow, filed for judicial review, and were subsequently, granted. In its application for judicial review, the group wanted to get the Floralia permits annulled, on the grounds that the Transport Board was reckless in its approval of permits to Floralia which brought competition to James Bus Line, and subsequently ran Griga Line out of business. The claim, essentially, is that due process was not followed. Love News spoke with Senior Counsel Barrow, the court’s decision may not be the end of Floralia, but it is a chance to do things the proper and legal way.
SC Dean Barrow, Attorney at Law: “The bottom line is that it was clear that the minister had given instructions that the transport board following the minister and following the government was determined that come hell or high water Floralia would get its runs and there was not even an attempt at fair play. They did not make an effort to try and even put lipstick on the pig. It was done in a way that road roughshod over James Bus Line and over Bryant Williams and because it was clear that the transport board violated the statute and violated the rights of natural justice to which the two Williams’ were entitled the court had no difficulty at all in in fact quashing those permits, in deciding that they were wrongly issued and could not stand.”
Reporter: So what does this mean for Floralia’s road permits ?
SC Dean Barrow, Attorney at Law: “They have been declared null and void but what the judge did was to say look because the nullification of those permits will mean that there will be a void left when Floralia will have to cease running the judge said I will stay the quashing order until 10th December to give the transport board and the industry a chance to wheel and come again if my decision the judge said, took immediate effect that would produce chaos. It would constitute a terrible inconvenience for the public and so bearing that well in mind the judge said you can have until 10th December I believe to get this thing sorted out but while the decision in terms of the quashing order is suspended it is nevertheless a decision so Floralia’s runs are quashed, the nullity is not taking effect until 10th December but it will take effect then and unless in the meantime the transport board can get its act together and fairly consider all applications for the routes that Floralia now has unless that happens there will be chaos. I suspect that the board will make every effort to sort it out. It’s not a great deal of time because for the board to do the fair play that the court has said is mandatory there must be publications, notices to the public inviting bus owners to apply and there must be notices in the gazette fixing the date for a meeting, there was must be three such publications so that the public at large will have a chance to attend meetings and to make their voices heard.”
Senior Counsel Barrow further added that the court found that members of the transport board acted in bad faith and did not consider the claimants’ concerns. He says that the court has awarded damages to the claimants that will later be determined.
SC Dean Barrow, Attorney at Law: “The court was scorching in terms of the transport board and the way it behaved and certainly the witnesses for the government, for the transport board, the chairman of the transport board Byron Sanchez and Ms.Diane Vasquez who was the Chief Transport Officer. The court said either they were dishonest, either they were deliberately seeking to mislead the court or they were incompetent and it was one of the most excruciating raps that I have ever seen a court administer to a public authority. But the court will in fact look at the details of the submissions from the Williams’ what it is they have lost and how is that loss for purposes of a court award to be quantified. So that is basically the matrix that within which the determination of the amount will be done but you’re perfectly correct in saying that the court will look at lost revenues, the court will look at expenses that have been in fact met by the Williams’ to no avail all for naught that sort of thing. The whole process was entirely unfair from start to finish including the fact that when a bus owner is dissatisfied, or any person, with a decision of the transport board the law provides for that person to appeal to the minister but the minister had long before said publicly that Floralia is here to stay and so it was clear that he was giving instructions to the transport boar to ensure that Floralia got its permits.”
Defendants in the matter were the Minister of Transport, his CEO, the Chief Transport Officer, the Attorney General, and the Chairperson of the Transport Board.