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Jun 11, 2020

B.B.O.C. Appeals for Intervention in Unlawful Bus Run!

There is dispute brewing between the B.B.O.C. and another bus line called the Belize Transit System. The B.B.O.C. operators are saying that the Ministry of Transport is turning a blind eye to the B.T.S. that is operating a run without a road service permit.  The B.T.S. is supposed to be conducting runs for uniformed personnel such as the police, but the bus operator is also carrying passengers during a time slot that is assigned to the B.B.O.C.  The member-owners of the B.B.O.C. say that they’ve been complaining and nothing has been done and they believe it is because the decisions are being made at the top of the ministry. They allege that Daisy Marroquin of Corozal is behind the B.T.S. line and as a result of her political connections; she is allowed to operate an unlawful run. Marroquin contested the U.D.P.’s 2014 Corozal South East Convention. This morning, the B.B.O.C. operators went out to the terminal to show their dissatisfaction about what was happening and to appeal for an intervention. Here’s how that went with Andrea Polanco.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Transit System, or B.T.S. for short, was a no show this morning at the Belize City Bus Terminal. It’s a bus that is chartered to transfer uniformed officers back and forth between Corozal and Belize City. It would usually enter the terminal around eight and leaves by eight-thirty – and these member owners of the B.B.O.C. were waiting for its arrival on site to express their dissatisfaction with what’s been happening. The situation is this – the B.T.S. is supposed to transport uniformed officers only – they have an agreement with the Belize Police Department. But while the bus operator transports the officers, it also picks up other passengers.  This video footage captured at the bus terminal on Wednesday morning shows passengers boarding the B.T.S. bus – these are commuters who would normally take the B.B.O.C. bus that has a scheduled run for this time. But the problem with this is that BTS doesn’t have a road service permit to be picking up civilians.

 

Darwin Kelly

Darwin Kelly, Chairman, B.B.O.C.

“Come in at the terminal, pick up our people; that is where we make our livelihood; make our living. To my belief, if the department or the government is paying this person to run the uniformed personnel, then why deal with the local?”

 

Andrea Polanco

“The B.T.S. doesn’t have a road service permit?”

 

Darwin Kelly

“No. It doesn’t have a road service permit.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you know if they have applied for one?”

 

Darwin Kelly

“I am not sure about that. But I know for sure that it doesn’t have a road service permit.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, why do you think this keeps happening – although you guys have been complaining for a while?”

 

Darwin Kelly

“Well, authorities; the minister over rides. The board doesn’t approve but the minister continue to push it.”

 

B.B.O.C.’s Chairman Kelly says it has been over a year since the bus line has been engaging in this unlawful operation but that no one in authority seems to want to take action. Kelly and his colleagues are now appealing to authorities to put a stop to this.

 

Darwin Kelly

“Over the past year or so, this bus start intervenes with the regular commuter. We went to the commissioner of transport and spoke with him about it and he does nothing. I spoke with the minister personally and nothing done.  So, this morning we decided to set it on the media so that we can get somewhere with it. Probably the Prime Minister intervene with it or we get a call from the commissioner and we sit and talk with him and we move forward.”

 

And that needs to happen soon, the B.B.O.C. says because the B.T.S. run is taking much needed monies out of their pockets. According to Kelly, they have thirty buses but now they only have seven are on the road.

 

Darwin Kelly

“It takes a big chunk out of it. It’s taking out.  We can’t afford that the life we have someone come and take it away from us. Each bus that is working right now has four workers; dat dah four families it feeds. It is not one family. My bus, when me and my conductor go on a day off, another driver and conductor go on that bus so that they can make a living.  If the police department is paying her a stipend, the department of transport isn’t giving me a stipend. So, I need to run and I need to create job for my people.  We are not here to strike or do anything unlawful. We are here fighting for our rights.”

 

Kelly told the press that he doesn’t agree with criticisms they offer poor service – pointing out that their bus line continues to run and also remained on the road when things got tough during the first wave of COVID-19.

 

Darwin Kelly

“Even if we are the poorest, our bus company is one of the bus company that the government relies on whenever there is a disaster – the first company they call dah BBOC. And if people feel like we are the worst bus company, why we still provide a service? Why people ride?”

 

Andrea Polanco

“The minister mentioned to me yesterday that this is one bus line that kept on running when no other bus line wanted to run during the COVID-19 situation. How do you respond to that?”

 

Darwin Kelly

“That’s a lie. I could tell him to his face. That is a lieAll through the COVID, my company is out here running. If they were allowing us to run during that time, we would be here to commute; to run. Even the officers deh ketch fi we bus sometimes.   You can’t compensate. Our road service permit – we bought that slot from the government. We pay our road service permit. So, if we pay our road service permit why should you bring in somebody on top of us and we already brought that spot?”

 

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Minister Edmond Castro denied being involved in the matter. In another phone call with Chief Transport Officer Tirso Galvez he told us that the B.T.S. doesn’t have a road service permit and by so by law shouldn’t be carrying passengers. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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