Minister Edmond Castro has his hands full as issues surrounding the transport industry seem to piling up within the last week. Earlier in this newscast we told you of the increase of bus fares in the western corridor and earlier this week we told you of the taxi drivers of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo District who were protesting against several issues including the buses coming from Guatemala who are doing local pickups and stops as well as the Guatemalan taxi operators switching to Belize license plates to carry out service in Belize. That meeting concluded just after three o’clock this afternoon. According to Castro, a gentleman’s agreement was reached.
“We are looking into a situation with the different complaints that they had, hopefully by Tuesday at 3pm I told them that I would call them back because I will then also discuss this at the cabinet level and see what we could do and help them. We left with a gentleman’s agreement and I will take up their cause to cabinet to see how we could assist them. We will provide the necessary enforcement officers to deal with that situation because each bus come across our border must provide a manifest and they will not be allowed to stop on the highways to drop off and pick up passengers, primarily those people will be going to the water taxi and in the event there are tour operators that are coming across the border in Belize and throughout the other borders they must have a Belize tour guide license. We will ensure that we enforce the laws to prevent them from going all over the country without the guidance or tour guide so that our tour guides will be able to make their pay.”
“When they did that protest the day before yesterday was it the first time you were hearing about the license plate issues with the Guatemalan taxi operators?”
“I heard it before.”
“Is it something that you had begun looking into?”
“Definitely and we have the legal decision on that but Mr. Galves would be able to talk on that better than I could.”
A second point of contention that the Transport Minister has had to deal with was an upset that occurred last week at the Belize City bus terminal surrounding the ADO buses. Minister Castro says it was nothing more than a misconception.
“So the evening run leaving Belize City at 11pm they were claiming was ADO was leaving in the BPO time slot but there are two different clientele that they are dealing with and they are not allowed to stop on our highways to pick up people so they are going directly. I think the first bus leaving to Cancun goes directly to Bacalar or Mahaual and they are not even going into Chetumal. The BBOC personnel were misguided and they could have come and asked for the information and they would have been facilitated with the information. ADO requested to o that run in the morning was primarily from Belizeans going to Merida and so on and to Cancun and so on that bus like other tour buses going through the country or coming out they must pay their charter and tour permit, they must have their manifest and they will be going directly to Cancun. So it’s not like that they have the privilege to stop at Ladyville or anywhere, if that occurs then we will discontinue that run but those people are going directly in transit.”
There was also a meeting held with the northern bus operators yesterday at the NEMO Conference Room in Belmopan. That meeting ended late yesterday evening but Minister Castro was unable to furnish us with the details as he is yet to be briefed by the Chief Transport Officer, Tirso Galvez.