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May 31, 2011

Instability; Transport Ministry and bus owners still in industry gridlock

The woes in the transport industry are far from resolved; in fact the situation is becoming even more complex.  Last Friday, the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative staged a protest that effectively closed down the northern and western highways over new road service permits granted to Sergio Chuc of West Line. The Prime Minister intervened and the protest was called off. By Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Transport issued a release saying that parties had agreed to nine runs which were to take effect this Wednesday. Well, not so fast because tonight the situation remains uncertain and the Belizean Bus Association is talking tough. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the latest on the bus crisis.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

It has been four days since bus operators effected a countrywide shutdown of the public transportation system by burning used tires across the highways leading to Belize City.  Despite negotiations with officials from the Ministry of Transport there is still no solution to the ongoing crisis.  Instead while the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative has regained a number of runs within the Western Zone its executive members have expressed dissatisfaction in the manner in which the agreement was struck.

Javier Vasquez

Javier Vasquez, Treasurer, BBOC

“The way the cooperative, us as the cooperative works is we elect the chairman for him to go to meetings for us and then after the meetings he should come back to us and inform us what took place in the meeting.  But in this case he [Claude Frazer] went to the meeting and he accepted all that was given to him and he did not come back to us and say well “We have this.  Do you agree or do you not agree?”

Javier Vasquez is among a handful of bus operators belonging to the BBOC who is not pleased with the outcome of recent dialogues involving the cooperative.  To them the offer made to BBOC was based on unwanted runs that were initially given to West Line.

Javier Vasquez

“Right now I am not really pleased with the decision that he [Claude Frazer] made so what we are planning to do is… Well we need another chairman, plainly stated we need another chairman.”

Turmoil within the Belizean Bus Association, particularly amongst members of BBOC, is only a portion of the problems being faced within the transportation industry.  On Monday BBA president Thomas Shaw met with operators in the Northern Zone.  Since then, however, the situation remains at an impasse.

Thomas Shaw, President, BBA

Thomas Shaw

“Nothing didn’t really come out of that meeting because one Mr. Roger Tun and Mr. Cruz; they came up with this new schedule and they actually inherited runs that weren’t there from the beginning, a fifteen minute slot to actually [be] created.  They created new runs to actually accommodate newcomers.  So based on that, you know, nobody has a fifteen minute slot because it’s going to create racing and it’s quite detrimental to the riding public.  So based on that we didn’t really get anywhere with the north yesterday.  They have to go back to the table and revisit the schedule.”

The immediate future of the industry remains uncertain.  There have been a series of sit-downs amongst bus operators and transport officials to discuss a mutual way forward but to every turn there has been a different obstacle.  The most recent discussion was held on Monday.

Thomas Shaw

“In that meeting the minister, I asked the minister who would be affected in the city, in San Ignacio or in Benque if they are supposed to reinstate BBOC in the west.  He stated that they managed to pull two runs from D&E and two runs from the Guerras.  More than likely after that meeting I came out and I made a call to Mr. Guerra of which Mr. Guerra told me he wasn’t aware of that and he didn’t forfeit any runs. I then mentioned to him that the minister and I quoted that the minister stated that Guerra is operating but you have several brothers that are involved.  I then called back Mr. Guerra and he got in touch with his other brothers, uncles and he stated that none of the brothers weren’t being [notified] or hadn’t been notified and that’s where we actually stand at this moment.  He said they are not willing to forfeit any runs.  If any runs are to be forfeited it’s from West Line.”

And while there is no foregone conclusion on the outcome of those discussions Shaw has made it clear that the time for negotiation is pretty much over and that further action can be expected.

Thomas Shaw

“The time for negotiation is over but as I said at this moment yes we had a shutdown on Friday but I’m not going to make no comment on that as I speak.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

It is not clear what further action is contemplated, but Shaw and Patrick Menzies will appear Wednesday morning on Open Your Eyes.

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14 Responses for “Instability; Transport Ministry and bus owners still in industry gridlock”

  1. DonPepe says:

    This GOB is just trying to give the business to its party supporters and not really to the people who need it. Chuc tried running for representative here in San Ignacio and never won to represent the U.D.P. now the U.D.P. is trying to give him piece of the cake that they have been pocketing all this time. This man has two gas stations here in San Ignacio and he still wants more, he is a greedy piece of crap, come on, the bus drivers need it more than Chuc, but yet the GOB is still giving him a space in transport.
    It’s time to say no and strike, get this GOB out,

  2. Enough says:

    This confusion in the Transport industry is being created by pure greed and selfishness that is being created by the Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse followed by his hatchet woman CEO Candy Saldivar and last but not least John Flowers (Chairman of the Transport Board) these three individuals sit in the Ministers office plotting and planning mischief, planning how to manipulate the industry; I can put my head on the block and say that the Minister have granted himself permits to run busses from the south and John Flowers wife was granted permits for school runs from Ladyville as for the CEO she is a party to all the chaos that is happening, don’t let Melvin Hulse tell you the public no rugudun no board makes any decision which he appoints he makes all the decision , decisions are made in a haphazard fashion- people get the sense Westline aka Novelos done butta Melvin,Candy and John so do not expect any changes in the industry , like Mr. Shaw says the minister must be removed. This is only the first of many other industries in the transport department which is in turmoil- water taxi industry is being faced with the same challenges and guess who is spearheading it, Melvin Hulse, Candy Saldivar and John Flowers (Ports Commissioner) I rest my case , BBOC stand strong and fight for your rights- Melvin and his two stooges (candy/John) are flipping liars not to worry tho Elections are near and all of you ministers will get the sense.

  3. Teacher says:

    The bus industry is in a mess. More than likely their are greater forces behind all of this that we, the public, do not know about. I’m sure the Prime Minister and Minister of Transport are trying to protect a sacred cow. Sergio Chuc has more than enough, he does not need more. It would seem that he is only being used as a front, bigger people are behind all of this.It’s a shame and disgrace that the present Government cannot fix this mess. I like how they try to solve the situation. They take from one and give to another. I’m sure D&E and Guerra’s won’t take it lightly. This is a mess and has been going on for two long. I believe that the BBA needs to stand as one. They cannot be fighting amongst themselves. If they must take action then they should. I think both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport have taken these guys for fools!!!

  4. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    I don’t know all the persons involved with this transportation mess but I can say for sure that there is corruption from above and that although Dean Barrow claims that he was not aware of what is going on he is knee deep in it all a part of the wealth building legacy scheme of him and his comrades, don’t try to fix what is not broken. Politics, Politics, Politics get all these dirty no good politicians out even if it will cause bloodshed that seems to be the only language that they understand those corrupted good for nothing scum bags. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  5. ivan cal says:

    agree BBA NEEDS TO UNITE as one and fight this arrogant,vindictive,nepotist,CORRUPT UDP government.this is toooooooooooo much we Belizeans have to handle yhis dean barrow govt’THEY HAVE TO GO.

  6. carlos says:

    Why are these people dissatisfied? Why they don’t rotate the shifts. During the week everybody will get a chance to get the hour commuters travel the most.

  7. CEO says:

    Now why the heck the politicians have to be shoulder deep in this kind of mess. Well actually it is a mess they created so…Just put regulations in effect, have the police department enforce the rules and the rules of the road and let supply and demand run its course. The operators who offer better service will stay in business and those that do not will go out of business. There would be none of this mess! It should not matter what party you vote for every Belizean who wants to run a bus should be allowed to as long as they follow the rules.

    The system if left untouched (except for law enforcement) will weed out all the bad operators.

    The politicians need to go work on solving crime and get the country moving more positively.

  8. Earl Grey says:

    GET GOVERNMENT OF OUR OUR BUSINESSES……(and bedrooms).

    THE SYSTEM WAS WORKING WELL AS IT ORGANICALLY DEVELOPED…..
    politicians get in to “FIX” THINGS and always MESS THINGS UP.

    GoB………BACK OFF PRIVATE BUSINESS……… your main concern should be SAFETY….that’s it!!!

    LET THE MARKET DICTATE…..LET THE FITTEST SURVIVE ……. no need to MICRO REGULATE.

  9. JG says:

    i agree with CEO, the services with good safety standards, drivers who obey traffic laws, speed limits, etc should stay in business. those who JUST PLAIN CANNOT UNDERSTAND TRAFFIC SIGNS should be taken away, they are a danger to everyone on the road at the time.

  10. ang says:

    The best way is to hold a meeting will all bus owners there present in the flesh…hear all their concerns write them down on the board for all to see…from there either vote or draw or raffle equitably the shifts but mek them understand that public expects quality service.

  11. cindy says:

    Mr. Sergio chuc,

    Think about the hundreds of mouths that wont be fed because of your actions. reflect in your businesses that you have and that you can survive. give these people a chance to put a plate of food at their tables. you get enough!

  12. Reader says:

    I remember the good old days in the 1990s. Novelos and Batty used to be really reliable, and Batty used to even give chips and juice on Sundays!!!

  13. cayo says:

    greedy choke puppy. dont bite more than you can chew. this is the government that we thought would have made a defference and they did. they did exactly what we did not want. mr pm your days are numbered – u prove that ur government is not qualify to hold not even 1 term in government. what would happen if u would get another term……. i hope the belizean people have their eyes and ears open wide….. i am not into politics but this udp sucks and the pup is the pup is likely the same………we need a complete change in our democracy

  14. Happy says:

    To me it seems that Chuc is a good business man that has exploited the opportunity that was given to him. The fittest will survive and that is the bus company that provides the best service

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