Serrano’s Bus Service Owner Breaks Silence on Permit Cancellation

Serrano’s Bus Service Owner Breaks Silence on Permit Cancellation

The owner of Serrano’s Bus Service, Hernan Serrano, has broken his silence on the cancellation of his Road Service Permit, and claims he is being bullied out of the industry. On May 11, the Transport Board voted to cancel the company’s permit after an incident on May 9 involving one of their buses and another belonging to Central Transit, a company that operates in Ladyville, Belize District. According to the Transport Board, they had previously issued warning letters to the company and said that this recent incident was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Serrano responded to that, saying that he was not at fault in that incident.  He further claims that the owner of the Central Transit, Bernardo Bennett, who is also the Chairman of Ladyville, is using political ties to force him out.

Hernan Serrano, Owner of Serrano’s Bus Service: “I always make an improvement it’s them complain all the time. How about my complaint that I have in black and white too ?  I’ve been complaining for the same driver crashing my bus over and over and over. And he just came to work, crashed my bus and go sit on for two weeks, one month, and then come back to drive crash up a next bus and go back again. The same driver involving in the same accident, last accident happened. Over take my bus, all of a sudden he stops, no brakes light. How can you stop if all of a sudden somebody stops in frot of you. So this is a big equipment and all of a sudden you have to have time to stop and everything that’s why I told my driver we have meetings back to back please don’t treat the customers bad, please don’t drive bad on the street but like I say I am only a human being. For two years I haven’t driven my own bus. Whatever they say whoever hit the back has the fault so we accept fault, the driver signed, I signed already insurance paid for damages, nobody got hurt. For the record the guy said it’s a lot of people in the bus. No passengers were in the bus because at the moment because the bus had just started running from terminal the other bus, as a matter of fact that bus was out of timing. Mr.Bennet is on a timing that is not for him. My bus was on time and they had just left the terminal and they had just picked up two passengers and the passenger went to sit in the back. Only two passengers I had.”

While Serrano claims that he is being politically victimised, Ewart Metzgen, Secretary of the Belize Bus Association, reiterated that the Board’s decision was based on several complaints made against the company. Metzgen says while he understands the decision, the association is making a plea to the Minister of Transport on Serrano’s behalf to have his permit renewed.

Ewart Metzgen, Secretary of the Belize Bus Association: “He told them that he does not really see it fit for Mr. Serrano to have been expelled. That what they should have done was to suspend both bus companies because both bus companies have infractions. There are reports in the department on both bus companies. And he also mentioned to them that Mr. Serrano recently made an investment to upgrade his fleet, something that the department has been asking all operators to do. Now we have this situation being watched by other operators throughout the country. It puts fear in them now. I mean, you go, you make the investment and your road services permits are not renewed. So it creates more of a problem for not only Mr. Serrano but for other operators who want to improve but seeing the situation with Mr. Serrano and most of us know that he has already gone and made an investment and improved his fleet of buses.”

Reporter: Why would bus operators be fearful if you say that it was based on infractions? Would then that mean that the infractions aren’t serious or they don’t matter?

Ewart Metzgen, Secretary of the Belize Bus Association: “If you go, every operator, if you go to the Department of Transport and ask them to pull the files on each and every bus operator throughout this country, there is no bus operator in this country that does not have infractions.”

Reporter: Does that reflect poorly on the industry? 

Ewart Metzgen, Secretary of the Belize Bus Association: “It reflects on the industry and on the Department of Transport. When it comes to the Transport Law and based on decisions made by the Transport Board, the Minister has the law say… the minister can either reverse the decision of the board or go with what decisions the board made.”

The incident has since led to several residents planning a protest this weekend in support of Serrano’s Bus Service. Tanisha Serrano, the company’s manager, says the residents of the Vista Del Mar area feel their service is crucial to the community and want them to remain operational.

Tanisha Serrano, Manager, Serrano’s Bus Service: “The people are protesting because they love the services that we’re providing. If they did not love our service, they would not be doing this. And it’s going to be a huge impact because in all honesty, I don’t know which company would be able to fill our shoes.”

Reporter: What are you hoping to see come from the actions of the people in that community? 

Tanisha Serrano, Manager, Serrano’s Bus Service: “I hope that the transfer board will have a change of heart and that they will retract their decisions.”

Reporter: But apart from coming to the media, do you intend to take the transport board to court? 

Tanisha Serrano, Manager, Serrano’s Bus Service: “That is on its way. I had applied for my road service permit. I tried to adhere to all the rules of the transport board. We already upgraded our buses, and this is what happened.”

Reporter: Do you believe that there is politics at play? And if so, why do you say that?

Tanisha Serrano, Manager, Serrano’s Bus Service: “Most definitely politics is at play. And you know, it’s not only from this administration, it’s from the previous one as well. So they only give you your road service permit for three months. How can you rely on that? How can you go and invest after only three months? But we still went ahead and do it because then we need our runs. We have so much employees. We have 16 employees working for us.”

Serrano added that services have been ongoing since 2015 but will come to an end on July 14 when their permit expires.

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