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May 27, 2011

Source of bus controversy; West Line or transport minister?

Dean barrow

The protest paralyzed the country for hours, testing the resolve of the government to deal with its worst national crisis. After Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the Belize Bus Association President Thomas Shaw and the Chairman of the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative Claude Frazer at ten this morning, he had a sit down with Bus Owners from the North.  A press conference was held later in the afternoon; the conference room at the Matalon Building on Coney Drive was overflowing with members of all bus associations. There were still strong feelings about Sergio Chuc’s West Line, the new bus company. The prime minister admitted that the twenty-one day suspension of the northern routes extremely prejudiced the BBOC and though requests were made to have West Line removed, it wouldn’t be practical. The PM noted that Cabinet was informed by the Transport Minister that the bus association members no longer wanted to run in the west. Well, Shaw indicated that wasn’t true.

Dean Barrow

“The proposal to move the BBOC from the west and take them to the north would be stayed in so far as they can’t operate in the north because the preexisting situation is frozen. But they will still also not be able to operate in the west. So where do they operate for the twenty-one days. That was clearly unfair. How it was arrived at—whether as a result of some misunderstanding or whether there was deliberate mischief afoot, I can’t say and I don’t much care. I accepted right off that that resulted a situation that extremely prejudiced the BBOC. That is what we’re trying to fix. That is why I asked Mr. Shaw and Mr. Frazer that we’ve got to fix this by Monday. Can you wait until Monday? IN the reorganization effort, the minister was of the view based on the consultations that there was going to be a vacuum in the west; that the applications that had been made by the members of the BBOC showed that in the main they preferred the northern runs and it was on that basis this additional operator was invited to participate. Now I concede squarely that the fact of the identity of that operator has helped to muddy the waters. That operator is Mister Sergio Chuc, who is in fact an official of the United Democratic Party. Look man, I tell the truth and the entire truth and I do so all the time. Now that has complicated the situation. As Mr. Tun suggested though, the field is opened to newcomers in the right circumstances and providing Mister Chuc is legitimate, there is no reason why he should have been excluded from contemplation, from consideration.”

Jose Sanchez

“The impression is given that cabinet felt that your members did not want the West run anymore. Is that true?

Thomas Shaw

Thomas Shaw, President, Belizean Bus Association

“No, that’s not a fact. The Prime Minister stated a while ago that the operators applied for the north and they didn’t really want the west—that’s the reason why.”

Jose Sanchez

“But did they apply for the West?”

Thomas Shaw

“According to the Chairman, they applied for both. And the letter that I saw stated that the runs were revoked due to the fact that they applied to the north.”

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

“Sir, are u going amenable to a meeting or are you of the Menzies’ position which is by five o’clock today or else?”

Thomas Shaw

“The chairman of the BBOC isn’t here at this moment.”

Jules Vasquez

“Why is he not here? How could he miss this meeting? This is everything.”

Thomas Shaw

“This is the issue right now that when we had the meeting at ten o’clock this morning, I’m representing these guys, but you got to know what you actually want. And his members right now are disgruntled and I think that is the reason why he is not here because he personally stated that he is willing for a compromise. And due to that, as the president, I will not have anybody be blocking and all the rest of it because if you say something. I mean, what the Prime Minister stated a while ago, Mister Frazer did said that he was willing to compromise.”

Jose Sanchez

“So we have a Saturday meeting or a Monday meeting?”

Thomas Shaw

“Well If I can get hold of Mr. Frazer, the quickest way out—because like I said we look at our commuters. If I could get a whole of Mister Frazer, more than likely I would say tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez

“But definitely a compromise is the way?”

Thomas Shaw

“Well ahm, up to this point in time this is where we stand. I don’t really see us going back and blocking and blocking. If you heard what the Prime Minister state, which in that’s not actually our business—[but] if you give somebody a permit and you got to revoke it, we don’t want to know how you pay it back or if you are going to have an injunction. But at this time, as I said, I need to speak to the chairman because I cannot dictate for him or to know—like what took place in the meeting this morning; he’s the one who actually told the Prime Minister he’s willing for compromise, but his members aren’t in agreement with it.”

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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