The Orange Walk ĎDalla Taxií drama is fuelling up. There is rising discontent between the regular taxi operators and the new kids on the block trying to get a foothold into the taxi business. It is viewed by the regular taxi-men as an affront against their way of life to have cheap runs around the town. The Independent Taxi Association is requesting greater access to taxi routes and this does not bode well with veteran taxi operators who charge $5.00 and over for those runs. Orange Walk Town Mayor, Kevin Bernard, has met with the respective players in an effort to resolve the issue but finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Orange Walk correspondent Ennio Lopez filed the following report.

Enio Lopez, PlusNews Correspondent, Orange Walk
I have with me Mr. Roberto Novelo Sr. who is a member of the Independent Taxi Association here in Orange Walk; he wants to vent out some of his frustrations and concerns on the issue of the Dalla Taxi vs. the Stationery Taxi Association here in Orange Walk Town.

Roberto Novelo Sr., Independent Taxi Association
I just want to say that we are not saying that we wanted to stop completely. We have had meetings after meetings and they promise that they will look into the matter to regulate these Dalla Taxis. Regulate in the sense that they find a parking spot. Whenever they have a trip, they should just bring them down and then just go right back, instead of them going to and fro making noise in the town, blowing their horn, blocking traffic and creating accidents. The Mayor promised us that he will look into the matter; however up to now he has only made promises and we have not gotten any results. The Dalla Taxi doesnít care because the cars that they are driving are not for them, they are not the owners, they rent those cars from the owners. They pay something like $40 a day. So they donít mind who they are hurting or affecting. But they say that they are helping the people, because they are charging $1.50, when we the regular taxi men charge $5.00.

Enio Lopez
Do you think that commuters benefit from this?

Roberto Novelo Sr.
They do because me myself said that if I can avoid paying $5.00, when I can pay 1.50, I would. However that is not the point, the point is to let them find a parking spot and so that they can stop driving up and down creating traffic hazards.

Enio Lopez
I have with me the president of the $1.50 Taxi Association, Mr. Giordani Garcia.

Giordani Garica, President, Dalla Taxi Association
We are twenty two members and we are called the Dalla Taxi. We carry a fee of $1.50 from the Queen Elizabeth Park to Hospital and Trial Farm Village, which is close to the Town. We give this service to all the residents of Orange Walk, the villagers and the students from other villagers. We sent a petition letter to the Mayor that we wanted to get a pick up point and an unloading point in front of the Queen Elizabeth Park. The previous Mayor was issuing the tickets to all the Dalla Taxis -$50 for each time you pick up a passenger in front of the Park. He didnít want us to pick up passengers from the Fire Station to the Police Station, which is a long stretch and everyone knows that we pick up the passengers from in front of the park. We went to the Mayor, we had a meeting with the Mayor and the Mayor was supposed to give me an official letter. I just came out of his office and he told me that he would give me tomorrow morning.

Enio Lopez
It has been approximately two months since the inception of the newly elected Town Council here in Orange Walk Town. Since then, according to the Mayor, a couple of changes have taken place in an effort to move the town to a better standing. I have the Mayor with me.

Kevin Bernard, Mayor, Orange Walk Town

I want to make some clarifications as to what has been happening here at the Town Hall. The issue with the Taxi Operators has been a long going issue. What we have been doing here at the Town Council is to enforce our traffic laws; we have some from the Taxi Union that have been complaining that the people from the Dalla Taxi have been breaking the traffic rules and picking up passengers in the zones that they are not allowed to pick up. Likewise the Dalla Taxi also has its own concern. They are saying that the rule that was set in the previous administration in terms of the no pickup zone is too hard. We are currently in negotiation with the Union and the Dalla Taxi. The Council met on Wednesday night to discuss this issue and we have come up with the solutions and we will be meeting with the Dalla Taxi and Union next week Tuesday, so we can finalize and settle this matter once and for all.

For Plusnews, Enio Lopez, Orange Walk.