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Feb 24, 2023

B.B.A. Has Issues with Transport Ministry’s Release; Plans Membership Meeting

The long-awaited press release that the Belize Bus Association had demanded the Ministry of Transport issue on Wednesday is out, but the B.B.A. says that the release contains a few points that they never agreed to. B.B.A President Thomas Shaw had told the media on Wednesday that following their meeting with transport officials, the B.B.A. demanded that the ministry circulate a press release that reflected the points on which they came to an agreement during the meeting, to address concerns in the transformation process of the bus industry. The demand was also that the release be issued that same day. But it took the ministry two days to come up with the release, and in that time, the B.B.A. was already exploring what course of action it would take as a sign of protest. They sought a meeting with the executive of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, which currently has its own battle with the government. While Shaw did not want to discuss their concerns specifically, he did say that they now have to go back to their membership to discuss those concerns. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The press release that the Ministry of Transport came up with around midday today should have closed the deal between the ministry and the Belize Bus Association on how they move forward with the transformation of the bus industry. But the association has found discrepancies in portions of the release and the document was never made public, at least not yet.


Thomas Shaw

Thomas Shaw, President, Belize Bus Association

“When I went through it carefully, I noticed that there were certain things in there that we were not in agreement with, so that’s the reason why, as I said, um, I told him that I would’ve to go back to my membership and let us discuss that. There are certain points in there in terms of the. Amalgamation because it’s something we discussed, but we didn’t have this discussion with our members in the north. We were just saying we were going to do a pilot in the west, and we couldn’t just throw that down their throat because we don’t know if all operators are in the position to go in that direction as yet. We’re calling an emergency meeting on Sunday with our membership and once we get that sorted out then the press release will be going out on Monday.”


B.B.A President, Thomas Shaw said that the B.B.A. had conducted consultations with its members, but it appears that not everyone, particularly the bus operators in the north, understood the finer details of the merging process with bigger companies that would result in only two companies for the northern route.


Thomas Shaw

“This has to be an educational process because most of what was mentioned in that meeting, some of the operators were not privy to that information. When you talk about, due to the amount of operators, we don’t really know how that would actually work in the north. Yes, we have been doing our rounds, but we still have operators out there that some of them didn’t come to the consultation, they didn’t attend the meeting, and I think it’s just fair before we put it out there that we have all that to be in agreement with it. Yes, we as executive, we went in there, agreed on certain thing in principle, but we are actually here the representatives of the people and we have got do what the people tell us to do.”


Minister of Transport, Rodwell Ferguson says there’s no other way to solve the problem of speeding and fierce competition except to merge the companies.


Rodwell Ferguson

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Transport

“In Corozal and Orange Walk itself, we have about fifty-one bus operators that cover between Corozal to Belize City and the villages. That in my mind is not conducive to any development because maybe one person have one bus from Corozal to Belize and when there’s a breakdown there’s no replacement so the commuters are the ones that suffer that cost. So I convinced the BBA the best thing is to have two bus companies in every region. And then we will merge. I’m sorry, who can’t hold on then you’ll have to go on the way side. . So if you don’t want to merge it up to you.”


Meanwhile, President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, Luke Martinez briefed us on what the nature of the meeting was on Thursday night with the B.B.A Executive.


Luke Martinez

Luke Martinez, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“We met to see how we could pool our resources in terms of the things that we have in common. And there’s a lot that we have in common. One of the biggest thing that we have in common is that we all serve the public, right? We all serve the public and so they are fighting for the betterment of their membership, and we’re also fighting for the betterment of our membership and collectively, we’re all pushing for nation building and for it to be done in a positive manner. So, we, we met to establish our common grounds and to commit to uniting on all issues, not just the issues that are in front of us.”


For now, Shaw says that the B.B.A is not planning any strike action against the government since the release has been shared with them.


Thomas Shaw

“We call it off due to the fact that they’re cooperating with us, and Monday we go from there. So there will be no action over the, over the course of this weekend because as I said, we are the ones who actually told them to hold off on that (press release).”


Marion Ali for New Five.

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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