Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#408783 - 05/27/11 10:03 PM Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked
Marty Offline
Major parts of the Northern and Western Highways blocked

Since the wee hours today Friday the National Bus Operators Association has taken drastic steps to get the attention of the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister of Belize. Major areas on the Northern and Western Highways have been blocked by public buses and tires set on fired on the highways. As a result, driving from one point of the country to another has become chaotic and many workers have been unable to reach their work places and students have been unable to attend and sit their final CXCs and exams.

In a statement this morning, Prime Minister of Belize Hon. Dean Barrow described the situation as “a transport crises” and is asking the bus operators to return to the dialogue table. He is also calling the public to be calm as the Government is trying to reach an agreement with the National Bus Operators Association. The PM also said that key members of Cabinet are meeting in an emergency meeting and he is expected to update the public in a press conference tentatively set for 2:30PM Belize Time.

The Belize Defense Force are deployed to key areas of the country to maintain law and order and are trying to removed the buses that are blocking the road with the use of heavy machinery. Reports are that so far, police in Orange Walk Town, have detained one bus operator after he was driving a pickup truck with tires allegedly to fuel the road fire in various parts along the northern highway.

The bus operators are protesting the government decision to cancel public runs from major bus operators and giving it to new bus operators. These new bus operators are said to be supporters of the ruling United Democratic Party.

The Leader of the Major opposition party, The People’s United Party Hon. Johnny Briceño has also addressed the nation from the blockage near Carmelita village. While he said that the bus operators are not alone in the fight, he is asking them to remain calm. He said “our party is in solidarity with the bus operators.” The PUP will make an official statement later today.

The Belize Bus Operators convened in a meeting shortly after midday. The President of association Thomas Shaw said that he met with the PM and told the media that they are working on an agreement but caution that it was not finalized. He called however on bus owners to remove buses off the major highways since the PM has made a firm commitment to the operators on a way forward.

Jorge Aldana for LOVEFM

Top
#408784 - 05/27/11 10:04 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Notice from Ministry of Education - Re: Transport System Disruption
Press Release - Belmopan, Ministry of Education - May 27, 2011 - In light of the disruption in the transportation system the Ministry of Education and Youth hereby informs parents, guardians, students, principals and managements of schools of the following:

1. Parents and guardians are advised that, while classes have not been called off, they are to take into due consideration the safety of their children in making a decision whether or not to send their children to school today under the circumstances.

2. Schools and managing authorities are to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of their students and members of staff present at school.

3. The Ministry of Education and Youth is seeking the advice of the Caribbean Examinations Council on how to proceed with respect to the CXC Examination that is scheduled today. Pending such advice from the Caribbean Examinations Council, students taking CXC Examinations today should make the effort to reach their examination centers without taking undue risks. As we get such feedback from CXC we will be making a public announcement via the radio stations. Parents, guardians and students are asked to listen to their radio stations for updated information on this.

Top
#408785 - 05/27/11 10:04 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Update from Ministry of Education
As a follow-up to our earlier release in light of the disruption in the transportation system, the Ministry of Education and Youth hereby updates parents, guardians, students, principals and managements of schools of the following with respect to the scheduled CXC Examinations today:

1. Students taking CXC Examinations today should make the effort to reach their examination centers without taking undue personal risks.

2. The Ministry of Education and Youth has been advised by the Caribbean Examinations Council that scheduled examinations are to begin on-time for students who arrive on time at the examination centers.

3. Students who are delayed because of the transportation disruption are to still make every effort to reach the examination center without taking undue personal risks. Once at the center, students will be allowed to start the examination late and will be given full-time to complete the examination.

4. Where a student is unable to reach his/her examination centre because of the transportation disruption they are advised to go to the nearest examination centre with their registration information/documentation and where arrangements can be made for them to sit the examination at that center.

The Ministry will remain in contact with the Caribbean Examinations Council to inform them of any further developments and to get further guidance from them. We will advise students sitting examinations and schools accordingly.

Top
#408786 - 05/27/11 10:15 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
PHOTOS OF HIGHWAY BLOCKAGE FROM LOVE FM










Top
#408819 - 05/28/11 03:39 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Bus Owners Stage Massive, Simultaneous, Coordinated Shutdown Of Highways

Early this morning, Belizeans all over the country awoke to a country in crisis - or at least in paralysis: highways in the north and central areas were blocked off in multiple areas while in the South major lines were not running.

The blockage was the result of direct action taken by the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative and the Belize Bus association. As we reported, on Tuesday, they made demands of the Ministry of Transport which were rejected yesterday.

With that the Bus operators planned a direct and massive attack on the country's highway system. 7news was first on the scene when it started at 4:30 this morning on the northern highway - Jules Vasquez has a detailed report:….

Jules Vasquez Reporting
When we arrived at mile seven on the northern highway Police pulled up shortly after and raced off, presumably for their support which was waiting for the fire to start at the Haulover bridge between the four busses we saw an almost otherworldly glow and on the road lighting up the dawn with furious intensity a tyre bonfire. It issued a thick cloud of black smoke smothering the early morning light and made for a dramatic, early morning statement police were forced to go off road to get across that stretch of the highway as the fire was in a powerful free burn. Already drivers were being sent back. Really it was only a few tires maybe about seven - but the effect they had was overpowering.

And from dawn the message they sent was unmistakable the BBOC was serious about getting back its runs.

We left that scene to go to Hattieville- at the cornel English bridge where the busses were lined off and fresh tires were going on a fire - which had been burning for about an hour with more fuel on the read - the fire belched out black smoke in huge mushrooming clouds.

Cyclists made it across - but not even birds could fly low and everything was fuel for the fire causing it to spread across the road in full majestic free burn - the future as unclear as the bursts of acrid black smoke sent up like distress signals.

Remarkably with all this happening for hours - police presence was light - they were almost letting the BBOC have its way - Superintendent Alford Grinage, head of the Patrol Branch came to assess the scene commuters on the other side of the fire, the western side looked on helplessly.

All they could do was wait - same for the vehicles, while the fire put on a show. The BBOC busses forming a second line of resistance and BBOC personnel sitting defiantly on top of the busses.

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"We have the whole country... there are no buses coming from the south, nothing coming out of the west. The minister told one of our representatives that we have no backbone. How do you like us now Mr. Minister. We are showing you we have the backbone. Where is your manhood, where you can say that you gave us word and you stand up like a man and you stick with your word. Where is your backbone?"

John Brackett, CIFOS
"This has been going on this morning from a quartet to 4. I get to understand that these people will want to take plan C if the Prime Minister doesn't intervene. What plan C will be like. I believe it will be very disastrous and so therefore the organization is asking the Prime Minister to intervene in this and let's come to the table and let's get back the BBOC on their runs."

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"We need to start feeding our families, we have bills piling up on us and we need to start working again so that we can start paying our bills so let's stand and tell these people in government that they were elected by the people. We are their bosses and they must listen to us and they have to stop this nonsense of taking advantage of people. We want to get back our runs on the west. We want to go there. They want to give Mr. Chuc runs - give him the runs in the north and let's see what's going to happen in the north. Send Mr. Chuc that side. Why send us there? Let Mr. Chuc and whoever is behind him go there."

Jules Vasquez
"Earlier in the week you told me that you have bank obligations and I am sure that you have a family. Aren't you afraid? You could end up being arrested here."

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"This is all part of t Jules. We are standing here fighting for our bread and butter."

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"I just want to plea to the Prime Minister to do something. When PUP did this to us we went to the Prime Minister for advice. He was then the Leader of the Opposition and he told us to block Hattieville, we will fill all your busses, you need legal representation - I will do that. So today I am asking you Mr. Prime Minister to please intervene for us. You can do that for us. You know how many families are here without food. We have bills to pay; you cannot do that to us - not now."

Jules Vasquez
"Now ma'am I see you our here in a red shirt."

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"Because I am a UDP. I campaign for Castro. I am a UDP and I will not back down from that."

Jules Vasquez
"But if you are a UDP you would block the road."

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"Excuse me; will Mr. Hulse pay me $300 that the cooperative has been paying me? How will I pay my bills?"

Jules Vasquez
"Now ma'am you are a law abiding citizen, you are a business person and as you said you are a UDP. It has to be a hard set of circumstances to do something illegal as what you are doing here."

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"Exactly, because this is my bread and butter and I told someone that if I have to die fighting for this then this will be it. If I have to climb on top of the bus with Karina then I will do that. I am not moving, I am not afraid. I will not move. I said this to Mr. Musa years ago in 2007 that I am not afraid and I will say it now - I am not afraid."

And they had the support of commuters who had mixed feelings

John Brackett, CIFOS
"Right now maximum support from the public, no one is frustrated when it comes to the commuters. Everyone is satisfied and dissatisfy at the same time with the decision that the Minister of Transport have made."

Commuter
"I think we as Belizeans we need to stop sit down and make the government walk over us. They have to realize that it is us that put them there and it is us the people of Belize that are the government. So they can't just walk over us and put what they want in front of us. I am happy with the association or BBOC who are doing this today."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you inconvenience by it?"

Commuter
"Well it is inconvenience everybody but as I said that we all have to take a stand, we all have to unite together."

Jules Vasquez
"Where were you guys heading?"

Commuter
"We were going to Chetumal."

Jules Vasquez
"Explain to me what happen. You can't make it."

Commuter
"We can't make it because of this fire thing here big man."

Jules Vasquez
"So you are not with it?"

Commuter
"I am not with it. We are the Youth for the Future crowd."

Commuter
"When I left from my house I see the smoke."

Jules Vasquez
"But you know why they have the road of fire like that?"

Commuter
"It's the bus company."

Jules Vasquez
"And how you feel about it?"

Commuter
"Bad."

Jules Vasquez
"You want to reach to your work."

Commuter
"Yes, I want to reach to work."

Jules Vasquez
"So you don't support them how they have the road block?"

Commuter
"No. I don't support them at all."

Driver
"I was going to work but I am stuck right here. I have to see what time they will open the road."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you know why they have the road of fire like that?"

Driver
"It's concerning the green busses. I think the minister is taking away their runs."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you support them in....?"

Driver
"I am out of politics, they are "politricks"

Commuter
"We can't reach at work and I am supposed to reach at work for 7 o' clock. I was trying to get in contact with my supervisor but I can't so I guess it's on both roads, so we just have to wait until they clear the roads or whatever to get at work."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you have any idea why the road is block?"

Commuter
"I know the bus owners are on strike due to the injustices that the government is doing to them. We understand but still we have to go to work."

Jules Vasquez
"So if you don't reach to work on time you will be in problem."

Commuter
"No, my boss will understand."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you support what they are doing?"

Commuter
"In a sense yes because I think it's unfair."

Commuter
"Well I know that my family members are over this side waiting for me and I took the chance from the side of the road."

Jules Vasquez
"Now it's kind of hot."

Commuter
"It's very hot and I think half of my ears are scorch."

Jules Vasquez
"Were you inconvenience by this?"

Commuter
"Yes, my kids have to go to school and I am a teacher at Sadie Vernon Technical."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you support the bus drivers?"

Commuter
"Yes I do, it's something that has to be done. I expect something will come out of it at the end of the day and we are hoping for the best."

Jules Vasquez
"How will you get to work? You still have 16 miles to go."

Commuter
"I will take it as it comes. Basically I already cross over. If I see anything going in my direction I will ask for a ride and where ever I stop I will do the same thing. That is the way it's supposed to be."

Jules Vasquez
"You find this to be an inconvenience or do you support the BBOC in their actions?"

Commuter
"I think it's an inconvenience but I support the bus owners, honestly. I think that the government should have found a way to deal with it before it came to this. If according to the news that you report that the minister tell them that he gave them so many days extension and the minister tell them that he will work on it and when he came out of the meeting something else change. If I have a job and the took it away from me today I think it's unfair and they give it to someone else just because they don't like me. So it is an inconvenience but I agree with the people them, somebody have to stand up somewhere."

And while the commuters waited the fire was getting more fuel with even Ms. Maria doing her part by 7:00 am - a tidy stockpile was waiting.

A sight just to behold so great was the fury of the fire - so uncommon the setting with willing hands to do the heavy lifting and yes even children got in on the fire - fuelling rolling tires almost bigger than them.

By 7:00 am - police were asserting their presence - which the bus operators protested against - and right on time came the announcement of a détente

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"They said that we will have back our runs. At 11 o' clock they are meeting."

Jules Vasquez
"Who is that you just spoke to?"

Maria Rodriguez, BBOC Bus Owner
"I cannot say but if we want to move the busses it is up to us but if not leave them here as it is. They are concern about the fires."

With that - by 8:00 am - police had secured the road - without using force simply by detaining the lead troublemaker - that is John Bracektt

John Brackett, CIFOS
"There is no reason for my arrest."

ComPol Crispin Jeffries
"No interview, thank you."

Apart from that - the situation had been defused.

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"Mr. Jeffries asks us to move the buses because of what is going on."

Jules Vasquez
"You all will move?"

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"We are starting to move one by one."

Jules Vasquez
"On what basis have you all agree to move it."

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"They say that they will give us back our runs starting tomorrow."

Jules Vasquez
"You all have gotten word from an official - the president?"

Ewart Metzgen, BBOC Operator
"We are hearing that and that's the reason why we are going to move the busses."

Jules Vasquez
"You will move the bus?"

Driver "Yes sir we will move the busses."

Jules Vasquez
"On what basis?"

Claude Frazer, Chairman - Belize Bus Owners Coop
"We get a resolution and the Prime Minister says that he will deal with our problems. And we prefer do it like this - peaceful with no blood shed. We don't want any problems."

Jules Vasquez
"But you all have received assurance that things are going to go your way?"

Claude Frazer, Chairman - Belize Bus Owners Coop
"Well that is how it seems right now."

Jules Vasquez
"So you are satisfied that your protest was effective."

Claude Frazer, Chairman - Belize Bus Owners Coop
"Exactly and we thank the people that was around even though we inconvenience them, they weren't mad with us. We had some goods comments and that is why we are now taking all these people to Belize City for free. I trust the PM and I will leave it to him and I am sure that he will make a good decision, so I am not scared of what I am doing and if not plan B."

Jules Vasquez
"And plan C."

Claude Frazer, Chairman - Belize Bus Owners Coop
"Also."

Jules Vasquez
"You seem like you feel relieve a little bit Mr. Frazer."

Claude Frazer, Chairman - Belize Bus Owners Coop
"Yeah the cap off the pressure cooker have release a little bit definitely."

And by 7:30 am the BBOC busses were moving off. The only thing left was to clear the road of the debris - piles of steel belts form the tires - and the fire department and the ministry of works hooked up on this one and by 9:00 am the first vehicle was driving across - clearing traffic that was backed up for miles.

Back in town president Shaw was at the Whitley building for a meeting with the prime minister and as they went up in the elevator. Frazier arrived shortly after and he went up with Education Minister Faber.

Over an hour later Shaw Came out satisfied

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"I must applaud the Prime Minister because he is a man of his word - he state clearly what was taking place with the minister and he had the impression that BBOC didn't want the runs because he said that the minister told him that the BBOC didn't want the runs and that's the reason why he gave it to Mr. Chuc. But he promise that he will resolve the situation and with a compromise try to reinstate BBOC back in the west."

Patrick Jones
"So you are happy with what transpires with the meeting with the Prime Minister."

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well at least we got somewhere, and basically that's our discontent and all the operators and so as I say after 2:30 I will know where we go from there."

Jules Vasquez
"Now a lot of your membership wants to speak in absolute 'we'll try and resolve it', 'he will try and reinstate' I am not hearing absolute definitive terms. Will the runs be reinstated?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well they will be reinstated due to a compromise due to the fact that this guy has already made an investment. Mr. Frazer stated that he will compromise, he doesn't have a problem if they try to share it half and half, but that's where we stand at this moment."

Jules Vasquez
"Now the Carmelita people are still blocking the road and they say they are waiting for your ok to clear it. Will you call them and tell them to clear the way?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"I did because as I say nothing last forever, I told them to clear the way as soon as we come out of this press conference."

Patrick Jones
"I get the feeling this morning that you all have lost confidence in Minister Hulse as Minister of Transport. You want him out of the way because he has lied to you and betrayed you all. Are you still standing by that?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"I am still standing by that. I would like to see him be removed and personally they should give more respect to the commissioner and the transport board and take Mr. Melvin Hulse and Ms. Candalaria out of this."

Channel 7


Top
#408820 - 05/28/11 03:40 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Compromise Blows Up In PM’s Face, Live At Press Conference

And so Shaw came out of that meeting around 11:30 upbeat and ready to find a way forward through compromise. That led the way into a 2:30 press conference hosted by the Prime Minister with Shaw at the head table, where the PM picked up right where the morning meeting left off:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"The willingness on part of Mr. Shaw and Mr. Frazer to try to resolve this thing resulted in our agreeing in principle to a compromise. In effect we would try to divide up the thing and ensure that as far as possible the BBOC will not lose any of their runs except to the extent that everybody perhaps would lose runs as there is an effort to compress the thing and make it all together viable and feasible. So by and large there would be this portioning of the BBOC's block of runs between the north and the west. "

So the plan as the PM outlined it was for Shaw and other stakeholders including government to meet on Monday to work out how this new balance would be arrived at.

The PM had already canvassed the northern association of busses for support for a carve out for the BBOC in the north and came back with the proposals you just heard.

He expected Shaw to second it when he spoke, but the Bus Association President had dramatically changed his tune from earlier in the day - and the PM's compromise proposals ended up blowing up in his face, in real time. Here's how that about turn from the Bus Association went:

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Some of my operators are still in agreement with the arrangement that Mr. Frazer as the chairman of the BBOC actually stated that he will try to compromise. The position with the operators from the west - is that they wanted this operator - Chuc's Westline to be removed immediately and for them to be reinstated. The same way Westline was actually inserted in the West I would like to see the BBOC reinstated immediately because these guys have been operating for over 6 years and when you look at it they have been taken out overnight and given privilege to a guy that has or brought in 20-30 busses. As the president I think it's unfair and am not going to mince words but what i am saying is coming from my heart and as a operator myself I know exactly with the economic crisis - with fuel and all the rest of it I see what these guys are going through. It's been more than two weeks that these guys have been out there and not making a dime - they have their families and they have bills to pay and I am not here to negotiate because I have already sent out my message and if we have to go back to the table and negotiate for another week or so then where do that put the 60-100 families. I would like to see the Chuc's Westline be remove immediately and if anything le the Westline wait for its turn and have the BBOC reinstated as quick as tomorrow." (crowd clapping)

"I would like to see the BBOC reinstated immediately, after we leave this meeting say well 'BBOC, you are allowed to run tomorrow' and let the Westline wait for its turn."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"As an honorable gentleman will not deny that in that meeting tis morning there was no demand made by either you or Mr. Frazer that in fact there be an immediate reinstatement of the BBOC on the western run. Now perhaps as I said that produce some dissention in the ranks in terms of the membership of the BBOC and maybe even the larger membership of the BBA. While I will understand that Mr. Shaw - I hope you will also understand that we left that meeting with an agreement as to the way forward. And that is certainly how government means to proceed."

And complicating things even more was that the chairman of the Belize Bus Operators Association, Claude Frazer did not show up at the Prime Minister's press conference. Best information to us suggests that he was drummed out of the meeting with his own members when he suggested the compromise that he had agreed to in the morning meeting with the PM.

The members of the BBOC had a new personality represent them at the head table. He is firebrand Patrick Menzies who took things to another level completely when he dropped a deadline on the government. That's when the press conference took a turn from strange to surreal:…

Patrick Menzies
"In that meeting this morning I was not there like the PM said, I wasn't there, Mr. Frazer came out and we spoke about it. The operators agree unanimously that this is... well there is actually two options which I am going to share: number one: return to normal schedule tomorrow at 5am. You guys are crazy not negotiating - don't you have some time. Minister Hulse turns this thing upside down - he didn't negotiate - he promise a few days. Minister Hulse made a promise that he back out on, that's number one. Number two; all runs - 18 in the west and 6 up north be reinstated as it was before. Number three; immediate release of all busses and compensation for damage to those busses that were damage by the folks that move them. Number four; immediate release of all detainees and all charges drop. Now let me share with you - I can teach negotiation - I am a professor, so I know what negotiation is. I didn't come here to negotiate. The option is this that this occurs immediately - we give the ministerial coordinates here until 5 pm to decide if they want it or not. Not Monday but 5pm Today, these guys are still starving. That's one and the second option is until 5pm, so that two options. if not what started today will continue."(Crowd clapping)

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"It is completely unreasonable and unacceptable to tell government you have until 5 o' clock to reinstate the BBOC on the western run. That is unacceptable; I am not going to in any way suggest that the government wants a confrontation. I am telling you that it is quite the opposite. The government does not want a confrontation, the inconvenience to the public, the economic damage that it will cause. These are thing at this particular juncture we dearly want to avoid, But Mr. Shaw and Mr. Menzies - I would hope that public opinion will see that in fact we are attempting to be reasonable and to be fair."

Patrick Jones
"How was there the necessity to insert westline in this whole mix because that seems to be the crooks of what is the problem here. Why was westline inserted in this whole thing?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I concede squarely that the fact of the identity of that operator has help to muddy the waters - that operator is Mr. 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 - the field is open to new comers in the right circumstances and providing Mr. Chuc is legitimate - there is no reason why he should have been excluded from contemplation from consideration."

After that, the Prime Minister pleaded with the leaders of the BBOC and BBA to meet with official stakeholders to negotiate a new compromise - possibly as early as tomorrow.

After the press conference - we asked Shaw if he would go ahead with that - here's what he said:…

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, are you amiable to a meeting or are you of the Menzies position which is by 5 o' cock today or else?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"The Chairman of the BBOC isn't here at this moment."

Jules Vasquez
"Why isn't he not here? How could he miss this meeting? This is everything."

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"This is the situation right now that when we had the meeting at 10 o' clock this morning - I am representing these guys but yet you got to know what you actually want ok and his members are actually disgruntled and that's 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 nobody be blocking it because if you say something - I mean what the Prime Minister stated a while ago is that Mr. Frazer was willing for a compromise."

Jules Vasquez
"So what will happen?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well if I can get a whole of Mr. Frazer - the quickest way out because as I said we look at our commuters - if I can get a whole of Mr. Frazer more than likely I would say tomorrow."

Jose Sanchez
"Definitely a compromise is the way?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Well up to this point in time this is where we stand, I don't really see us going back and blocking the roads because if you heard what the Prime Minister state - which in that's not actually our business - if we give someone a permit and you got to revoke it - then we don't want to hear how you are going to pay it back 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. He is the one who told the Prime Minister he is willing for a compromise but his members isn't in agreement with him."

We'll have a little more from the press conference later on as the Prime Minister is asked about the performance of his Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse who - uncharacteristically - did not say a word throughout the nearly two hour long press conference this afternoon.

Channel 7


Top
#408821 - 05/28/11 03:41 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Scene In Carmelita

So far in tonight's news we've shown you what was happening this morning on the northern highway at mile seven and the prolonged standoff at mile 16, near the entrance to Hattieville.

That was defused by 9:00 am, but in Carmelita village outside Orange Walk, a road blockage continued until 11:30. And it wasn't just a road blockage, it was militant, defiant, and all those things that riots and unrest in the hot-blooded north are known for.

Thankfully, though it was neither violent nor deadly - but it almost got there - Monica Bodden found out why when she headed north…..

Monica Bodden Reporting
This was what it looked like this morning at Mile 50 on the Northern Highway - which is called the Posito Area. Tires were being burnt in the middle of the road while buses lined across the road - strictly NO access was permitted.

Crowds of commuters and supporters converged on the area. Everyone in solidarity with the bus drivers.

There were several attempts made by police to try and negotiate with the drivers and supporters to remove the buses from across the highway and give access to the flow of traffic.

Protestor
"This is peaceful."

Police Officer
"We are not out here for ...... but we have our duties to preserve law and order to right, so we have to come here and see what is happening, We can't just allow you to block the traffic and we stay back and do nothing."

Protestor
"This is a peaceful protest."

Police Officer
"The people are looking to create a small situation into a big situation, that's what we are trying to avoid. We are not out here for any violence, we are here to check out the situation, the road is block and the police have to do something about it."

But that didn't shake these drivers. In fact they refused to move the buses until they get the go ahead from their President - Thomas Shaw - who was in a meeting with Prime Minister Barrow at the time.

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"As you can see I was ready to go to court this morning when I met the situation and bus owners quickly retain my services to represent them as attorney at law for them - to defend their interest in this thing and certainly from what has been explain to me - this is much a bread and butter issue. Bus operators that have been operating for many years - for decades are suddenly by a single decision by a minister of transport - a single signature are being deprive of their livelihood and being deprive of their ability to put food on the table for themselves and their children and to pay off their loans and to send their children to school - meet all their expenses. These are regular people just like me and you and of course I am very sympathetic towards their cause because how shucks how can a responsible government make a harsh decision like this without properly consulting with the people and without trying to see what will be negative consequence of upon people like these. the commuters included that have rely on decades on the services of Cabrera's, upon the services of Chells busses and all those other bus lines so it really and truly an injustice what is taking place here but you know something I am not surprise given to we have been meeting in Orange Walk East. This is no surprise to me. So what is happening then is that I certainly as an attorney at law as the Orange Walk East area representative and as someone who has suffered from the victimization of this current government. I stand in solidarity with these gentlemen."

5 drivers were taken away to the Orange walk police station.

Monica Bodden
"Have you guys been threaten by the police?"

Driver "Yes."

Protester
"They threaten a bus drive and they lock him up. They took another 4 of them to lock up. They took Mr. Chell's son also."

Driver
"We are waiting for the call of Mr. Shaw the president of the association. As long as he tells us yes - he is negotiating right now with the Prime Minister and Mr. Hulse. We don't know what they are negotiating right now but we are negotiating right now for our cause. We are begging tis government to analyze and see it along with us and come clear with paper and writing on when we can go through with the negotiation."

John Briceno, Opposition Leader
"Certainly we are out here with the solidarity of the bus owners. I think what we are seeing here today is a direct manifestation of a government that is out of touch with the people and what is actually happening on the ground. It is unfortunate that is has come to this. I think that the bus owners have been expressing frustration in negotiating with the government for some time. They have been expressing their concerns and frustration without no goodwill on the part of the government. The last time around the minister promise them a 21 days moratorium only to find out that a few days later that was change on the Sunday. I think that we in the PUP have always been clear that we are always on the side of the Belizean people, we are very concern when it comes to the protection of people's jobs and in this case investments of these small bus owners. Many of them have their homes at steak and here with the stroke of a pen the minister is pretty much could very well take away not only their bus lines but even their homes."

Commuter
"Personally this is my take. I take my bus and it takes me all the way over by either North Front Street Holy Redeemer or by the bus stop right across Swing Bridge. When I take Venus or any of the other busses they drop me at the terminal and have to walk from there with a heavy bag and all the danger of the city to walk all the way down to school. That can't be working and I get up every single day so that I can take my bus and go there. The bus system is working. There is no problem there, I am willing to pay whatever they are charging because some of the busses are charging $4.50, $5.00. I will pay whatever it is. The thing is that you just need make sure that you arrive on time. When I take other busses I reach late at school."

Kevin Bernard
"This morning as you know we were travelling to Orange Walk, there are 4 busses that block off the street. The bus owners in Orange Walk have decided to also take a stand with the people in the west and south. They feel that the decisions that have been made by the minister and the ministry of transport is not something in the best interest of the people here in the north so they are taking a stand. If you notice there are tires burning on the highway. The police are out here to try to keep calm and order but some of the decisions that the police are doing is that they are trying to take action by force and I think we need to make sure that things are resolve more amicable and people get around the table and sit down and discuss to see where they can take this thing forward."

John Briceno, Opposition Leader
"For me what is more important at this time is for us to be able to keep calm. We need to make sure that it does not become violent and to point out to them that they are not alone in this and that the Belizean people are on their side and that the People's United Party are on their side. We have been with communications with them and we should be meeting with them later today and before the end of the day to take out an official statement in solidarity and in support of the rights of the bus owners association."

Commuter
"I'm with them when it comes to taking the license away arbitrarily without asking them and my point is that is something is working why bringing something else. You want to bring in another bus service - fine bring it in. The people will see which bus service is giving the best service and will go with that one. After the more bus lines there are the better it is for us the customer, because then we have to pick and choose and we have to get what we are asking for."

And then the crowd heard that the riot squad from Belize City was on their way and so they began preparing for the worst.

Stones were stockpiled and the fire blazed higher. Even though they wanted a calm demonstration, they were prepared for whatever came their way.

After 5 hours of blocking the highway - the drivers received a call from the president of the Bus Operators Association.

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"So you are saying that the message to the people from Orange Walk - from the north here that are assemble here by "posito" area is for us to disperse. Is that correct?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"Yes for you guys to disperse from the scene. This thing with the Chuc's bus line - personality the Prime Minister stated that he wasn't aware of what the minister was doing and he is going to bend back in order to resolve this situation."

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"And you believe the Prime Minister?"

Thomas Shaw, President BBOC
"We are having a press conference and I'll be on the air and it is confirm that myself and they guy from BBOC have been there."

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"According to the Prime Minister it was given without his approval. He is not in approval with what Minister Hulse has been doing when it comes to these changes in relations to bus runs etc. and that the Prime Minister is open to negotiations with the bus operators and basically I believe that Mr. Shaw was echoing the request of the Prime Minister that the road way be open up to a free flow of traffic once again and this was the telephone call that we have indicated to the police that we have been waiting for from this morning so it has come through and I believe that believe if the Prime Minister have given that commitment to the bus operators - it's not just Minister Hulse, it's no longer the Deputy Prime Minister it is the highest ranking public official in the land."

And so the roadway was opened. The buses moved one by one … while a fire truck extinguished the burning tires on the highway.

Traffic soon began flowing once more… And what happened to the men who were taken away to the police station - and where awaiting charges?

Superintendent Alford Grinage
"Don't put that as part of the commitment. This is what was we were dealing with. That part will deal with itself. We will find out from the officer if we will commit anything. Let that speak for itself, don't let that a part of it."

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"But let me ask this then, can I have a commitment that at least if charges have been put they will offer police bail today?"

Superintendent Alford Grinage
"If they are to be charge yes."

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"But I am asking you, you are the negotiator of behalf of the police."

Superintendent Alford Grinage
"We are not negotiating. What happen is that if they commit themself the officer is going to deal with it today."

Marcel Cardona, Attorney
"But will they offer police bail because the magistrate - my understanding is that magistrate will not be in office today."

Superintendent Alford Grinage
"Well I can't answer on that. We are going to look into that when we reach Orange Walk."

There was also a blockage of the Burrell Boom Bridge which was dramatic if for no other reason than the manner in which the busses were moved - we'll tell you about that a little later on.

Channel 7


Top
#408822 - 05/28/11 03:43 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Students On CXC Examinations Delayed By Road Shutdown

As you saw earlier on, the road blockages set up by the the BBOC and the Bus Operators Association caused nightmares for commuters - and some even called it as BBOC public and bank holiday!

But there was no holiday for students sitting the annual CXC examinations - which are carried out on strict timelines to ensure no possibility of academic fraud.

The disruption created a sense of urgency since the Ministry of Education has no control in the rescheduling of the exams and neither is it in a position to excuse students who were not able to sit the exams today. As a result the Minister of Education grabbed the opportunity on early morning talk shows to urge those students sitting the exams to make every effort to arrive at their examination centers. In addition it sent out a press release advising those students who arrived late at those centers were still allowed to start the examination late and given full - time to complete the examination.

Those who were unable to reach the examination centre because of the transportation disruption they were advised to go to the nearest examination centre and sit the test there.

Channel 7


Top
#408823 - 05/28/11 03:43 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Damages To Roads?

So far we've shown you what happened at the two greatest pressure points: mile 16 on the western highway outside of Hattieville and mile 50 on the northern highway near Carmelita.

But there were others. Smaller Tyre fires were stage don the western highway at miles 22 and 31 and the Boom Road Bridge was blocked

That one was dramatic because that's where heavy equipment was pulled out to shove the busses off the bridge. Here's what the CEO of the Ministry of Works Cadet Henderson had to say about damage to the highway in general:

Cadet Henderson, CEO Ministry of Works
"I don't expect long term damage it's just superficial, the asphalt will be damage but its normal for us to come in and do the cosmetic repairs."

Jules Vasquez
"I was there earlier; a front end loader or a grader had to be brought in to move the bus to haul it off the bridge. Will that bridge be damage?"

Cadet Henderson, CEO Ministry of Works
"The Burrell Boom bridge - it's a concrete deck and any scar from the teeth from the equipment would be minor so there is no concern there from my point of view. "

Channel 7


Top
#408829 - 05/28/11 03:53 PM Re: Parts of Northern and Western Highways blocked [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

OPPOSITION LEADER COMMENTS ON BUS CRISIS

The Ministry of Transport, and by extension, the government, has come under heat from all sectors for the action taken against the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative. This evening, the opposition, People’s United Party, also weighed in on the crisis. PUP Leader, John Briceno, told Love News that the PUP is concerned that there is the appearance of political interference.

John Briceno – Opposition Leader “The Prime Minister had to admit that Mr. Chuc is an official of the United Democratic Party and here you have this gentleman coming in jumping ahead of the line as the President of the Bus Owners Association pointed out to get all these favourable or lucrative bus runs. We want to make it absolutely clear that we are demanding from the Government that they reinstate the bus runs that the Bus Owners Association had and that they should sit down and negotiate with the bus owners in good faith with the object to come up with a reasonable compromise that they would be able to (a) be able to provide a good quality, safe service to the Belizean public and at the same time protect the investment of these bus owners that have been on these bus runs for many years.”

Briceno says that his party will try to assist the bus owners in whatever way it can.

LOVEFM


Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Links
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!


Things to do

News
Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
BelizeNews.com
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Amandala
Love FM
The Reporter
Caye Caulker
Chronicles

PLUS TV
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
SanPedroScoop
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater

Blogs
San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
Tacogirl
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Bound for Belize
Conch Creative
As The Coconuts Drop
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil’ Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
Mini Chat

Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
December
S M T W T F S
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Who's Online
1 registered (ragman), 52 Guests and 5 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
18,670 Registered Members
44 Forums
64,003 Topics
462,164 Posts

Most users ever online: 1,262 @ 06/10/07 07:16 PM




AmbergrisCaye.com CayeCaulker.org HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town
BelizeSearch.com Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History
BelizeNews.com Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory
BelizeCards.com SanPedroDaily.com Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.