Belize City traffic woes

Today was the beginning of classes for primary schools across the country. But here in Belize City, a number of students and commuters from various areas were without transportation because several commuter buses were impounded at the Traffic Department on Youth for the Future Drive. The drivers of the buses were up in arms claiming they are losing their only means of income. Albert Adolphus says that they were told that their buses can only go as far as Pound Yard Bridge; some five blocks away from downtown Albert Street. He says that it makes it is impossible for him to operate effectively. But according to Councilor Responsible for Traffic, Alifa Elrington-Hyde, since taking on the portfolio, several meetings have been held with the bus companies to discuss the implementation of the traffic policy which should have come into effect in January, but delayed until now. Elrington-Hyde says that all companies have conformed to the policy, except for the five buses impounded today.

Albert Adolphus, Bus Driver, Belize Intransit Services Limited

Albert Adolphus

“One of the officers tell me Mister Jenkins wah see me dah di base. So I stop and I come park the bus. When I see, my co-workers dehn come too and each one ah them have wah traffic officer in there as well. So dehn di try say that dehn noh want the big bus dehn go ina town no more. But we got some small bus. We got big ones yeah, but then dehn say dehn noh want di bus dehn go ina town. But which in the big bus dehn alright fi go ina town beucase we got a lot of kids; school open today. I was on my second run, third run and I had to come park. Imagine how much kids deh back there di wait fi bus…dehn done know Albert di come.  Dehn di try fi say now dehn noh want di big bus go as far as Pound Yard Bridge. So to me that wah be wah chaos because you bring all yo customers to Pound Yard Bridge and they are supposed to walk all the way to town? Cause dehn noh want no bus outta town. What happen to the lee small ones weh di go all the way to Holy Redeemer, weh gwen way dah Wesley; dehn college students weh gwen way up yonder.   The driver, we want know weh di go on because like how dehn park we, we want to know how we will pay our loan because we gone and get money to get dehn bus ya—buy parts and whatnot—like me. Today now I can’t pay my loan and when you noh pay yoru loan, your interest gwen up. Like this morning, we put in we diesel ina wi bus. We want know how we wah pay fi wi diesel when the end of the day done. I put in twenty-two gallons this morning; that dah two hundred and thirty-two dollars that and my bus park now.”

Alifa Elrington-Hyde

Alifa Elrington-Hyde, Councilor Responsible for Traffic

“This should not have been a surprise to any of the bus owners. We indicated to them last week that by Monday, if they had not downsized their buses, we would be taking the big buses off the road. From before I got into council and before I became the councilor with the responsibility for traffic, the council has had back and forth with the bus owners to downsize their buses.   As the city develops, because we are developing the city, we are trying to make it a more modern city; we also have to look at the transportation situation. If you would drive around the city, you would notice that a lot of our main streets that are being worked on cannot be used and you have to use the smaller streets. And I personally have seen the big buses having great difficultly going down the smaller streets. So we’ve tried to indicate to them since last year. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had at least four meetings with the bus operators, downsize your buses, color code your buses; make sure you have everything that you need inside your bus; make sure your buses are working properly.  We are supposed to be issuing road service permits. They haven’t gotten road service permits because they have not been in conformity with the policies that we’ve put in place.”

The buses were to be returned to the drivers at six p.m. today. And if the buses resume operation on the city streets on Tuesday, they will be seized by Traffic Officers until they comply with the regulations.

Channel 5