Is the UDP inserting itself in the bus drama for political mileage?
At Monday’s press conference by the Belize Bus Association, Philip Willoughby, a former UDP city councilman and Port Loyola candidate, sat at the head table. In his remarks, he said that the Opposition was in solidarity with the bus operators as they continue to press the Transport Ministry to hear and address their concerns. We found it curious that a politician would be at the head table because many of the issues the BBA has pre-date the current government. That’s why we asked Albert Area Representative, Tracy Taeger-Panton today if the party has any credibility on the transportation issues. Here’s what she said.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “I don’t think the UDP was ever dismissive of the Bus Owners Association, was ever dismissive of any concerns that were raised by any sector or any group of persons who had issues. Were we able to address all the issues ? No. We were able to address some of the issues ? Yes. I think a part of good governance really is for voices to be heard and it is important that in opposition that we remain engaged, that we listen to the concerns of all various sectors of the economy whatever those concerns are and if we can lend our support to ensure that in this case the Bus Owners Association at least get the proper audience and get some relief that they’re requesting then I think that all lends to the very robust democratic process that we all say we believe in.”
Certainly, in Belize’s post-independence history, there have been many cases of the party in the parliamentary opposition piggy-backing on the causes touted by workers, farmers, and unionists. Case in point, when the current Prime Minister, John Briceño was the Leader of the Opposition, he participated in the demonstrations by the BNTU. Now it appears, the tables have turned with the UDP hopping on the bus bandwagon. We asked Panton whether the UDP’s pro-BBA stance is political grandstanding.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “I don’t think it’s about political mileage. I think that the opposition is a stakeholder. It is a stakeholder that is expected to hold the government accountable to the commitments that they have made to the Belizean people and that is what the UDP seeks to do in supporting the Bus Owners Association or supporting the National Trade Union Congress of Belize or supporting the teachers. It’s not for political expediency and I hope that is not the message that is being sent. It’s about how we lend our support to ensuring that these commitments that were made by this administration are kept.”
We should point out that at the head table at the BBA’s press conference was Carlos Walker, the owner of Toucan Transport. He currently serves as the BBA’s treasurer and previously ran for the UDP in Fort George in a race he lost to Rt. Hon. Said Musa.