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#416381 - 09/17/11 08:58 AM A Tale Of Western Taxis
Marty Online   happy
Earlier this week we told you about the controversy over taxis between the towns of Benque Viejo and San Ignacio. San Ignacio wants to put restriction on the taxis coming in from Benque - the Benqueno's say its unfair and arbitrary. Yesterday Monica Bodden went west to get to the heart of the matter:..

Monica Bodden Reporting
There are over one hundred and fifty Benque Viejo taxi drivers - belonging to 5 different taxi associations… all stationed at the Western Border.

For some of these men and women, who have been in the taxi business for over 2 decades - no amount of experience could have prepared them for these new rules and regulations that have been put into place by the San Ignacio Town Council.

We were told that customers travelling from Benque Viejo into San Ignacio Town - will now be dropped off at specific locations - which means, if you are not going anywhere close to those drop off points, you may need to walk to get to where you need to go or take a San Ignacio taxi cab.

Juan Valdez - Maya Line Cooperative
"The situation is really with the town board because the town board is the one having the talks with the association there prohibiting us from going into San Ignacio travelling through certain streets - they want us to take the back streets going in by "Rapidito Loan" and come out by Riverside Street over there behind the vet over there."

Monica Bodden
"Now let me see if I get this straight, say I am going to San Ignacio and I take your taxi cab, you won't be able to take me directly to where I want to go unless it's by those routes that they have given you guys?"

Juan Valdez - Maya Line Cooperative
"That's exactly what's happening because they want us to leave the passengers there and then you are to pay another cab for you to reach your destination."

A letter was issued to the Benque Viejo Taxi associations after a meeting was held with the Town Council and the San Ignacio Taxi associations.

In that letter included the new regulations. The letter states that taxi drivers from Benque will have a designated pick up and drop off area - on Riverside Street in San Ignacio.

Benque taxi drivers will have to relocate from their current parking area. There will be a designated route to enter and exit San Ignacio.

If these rules are broken, there will be consequences.

Juan Valdez - Maya Line Cooperative
"This is just after a meeting that they had. The Cayo Association and the Town Board came up with this letter and forward it to us prohibiting us from travelling those routes. The associations from San Ignacio met with their mayor and the mayor came up with the conclusion that they are going to block us that way."

Conflicts between San Ignacio taxi drivers and Benque taxi drivers have been ongoing for years.

Monica Bodden
"What is the problem? Why don't they want you guys to take passengers into San Ignacio?"

Juan Valdez - Maya Line Cooperative
"I would say that it's a long time hatred that they have with us because they have always been harassing us from not going there - not picking up people here; giving us ticket because they say we obstruct traffic and things like that."

"We have been going through a lot of things with those guys there. But it's the Town Board that pay attention to the associations."

These Benque taxi drivers say they are constantly being harassed and so they are seeking legal advice.

Benque Taxi Driver
"At 8:30 - 9:00 in the morning we were parking at the market in San Ignacio, there was a sign that says Benque Route, so we respect that sign. One of the members from the taxi association in San Ignacio call the officers from the traffic department, they went to us and told us that we can't park on the side of the road because they say that is not valid. We are fighting for our rights because we are all Belizeans and we have to fight for our living and our kids."

Juan Valdez - Maya Line Cooperative
"Our next step is to see if we can talk to a lawyer so that he can put this thing straight. We would like for the Minister of Transport to come and intervene to see what's happening here because we are being harassed by those people. We cannot accomplish our services. We are public service and we are meant to carry people to where they want to go."

Benque Taxi Driver
"This is the law of the taxi drivers: The driver of a taxi shall not unreasonable refuse to hire his vehicle to any person required to hire a ride in it or should never refuse to drive his vehicle to any place to which he may be required to drive the person carrying the vehicle or..."

Benque Taxi Driver
"Ive been running taxi since 1978. I have 35 year of being a taxi driver and never yet this has happened. So we are fighting for our rights. If we can't go to Cayo, how will the people reach from Benque to Cayo? And those from Cayo can't come to Benque? So we are fighting for our rights."

Channel 7

#416382 - 09/17/11 08:59 AM Re: A Tale Of Western Taxis [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

San Ignacio Mayor Responds To Benquenos

Of course, there are two sides to every story - and the other side of this one is that San Ignacio's taxi operators are simply trying to make it so that the Benqueno's don't set up shop in their town.

Today 7news spoke with the Mayor of San Ignacio Town, John August who told us that the traffic department in San Ignacio Town is not stopping Benque Viejo taxicabs from dropping off their passengers. He explained to us how the new regulations work.

John August, Mayor of San Ignacio Town
"Benque taxis for many years now have always come into our town. They have always been allowed to into San Ignacio and Santa Elena bringing people from Benque Viejo and the surrounding villages to come and do whatever business they have to do in this municipality; banks or whatever. But we have never really had a problem with it. Its until recently that we started experiencing problems because the Benque Viejo taxi operators started doing freelancing in our community - what I mean by that is that they come into our community, they bring their passengers whether they are from Benque Viejo or the surrounding villages, they bring them into town but at the same time they want to start operating as if though they are taxi operators in this municipality and that has created the conflict with our local taxi operators who believe that the Benque Viejo taxis are coming into this municipality and not only bringing people and picking up people to go back to Benque but they are now starting to operate as taxi men in this municipality. What I mean is that if someone is standing on a street corner here in San Ignacio and Santa Elena and they want a ride - let's say to Hill View in Santa Elena or San Juan area then the Benque taxi would pick them up and take them to that designated area within the municipality and charge them a certain fee and that is what is causing all of this because they have started operating in this municipality as if thou they are an association here in our town and our taxi men don't like it."

"Let's say you get into that taxi and you have gone to border or to Melchor to do your shopping or whatever and at the border you get a taxi and you want to come back home to San Ignacio or Santa Elena - the Benque taxis can come drop you off at whatever area you live in this town but once they enter the town they cannot be conducting business in the town in picking up people in the town in San Ignacio or Santa Elena and dropping them off in other areas in the municipality."

"The problem is when they come in to drop you off let's say in Santa Elena but then they meet a passenger in Santa Elena but that person probably doesn't want to go to Benque or to the Western border."

Channel 7


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