Monopoly in the Water-Taxi Business…? San Pedro Water Taxi in control, the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, just a Phantom
There is growing concern among the frequent users (locals and tourists alike) of the water taxi vessels to and from Belize City that services the two most trafficked islands of Caye Caulker and San Pedro Ambergris Caye especially after the sharp increase in fares (price-gouging) going into the Easter week-end.
Whilst nosing around trying to find out what may be contributing factors as to the brazen act to raise prices the National Perspective found out that there are no more fair competition between what was once the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association and San Pedro Water Taxi Association and that there is only one group manipulating and controlling the Water Taxi business, period.
There are no longer any Caye Caulker residents involved in any way with the Caye Caulker Water Taxi association because many members/owners of the CCWTA were offered financial compensation and as a result sold off their rights for their membership even though many have only received 25% of what was offered whilst the majority are still waiting to collect a penny.
This agreement on paper has given the principal owners of the San Pedro Water Taxi Association the power to operate and control the phantom Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association thus enjoying the monopoly of this growing industry and increase passage fares as they wish.
Many familiar with the operational aspect of the water taxi industry believe that this was not a voluntary wind up sale on the part of the CCWTA but in fact was forced by the interested party within the leadership who basically pushed the company into financial trouble then offered the seeming merger as the only way out.
Many believe and view this take-over of the CCWTA by the SPWTA as hostile, immoral and illegal and to make matters worse, the new Owners had insiders in Government facilitating in the transfer of the Marine Terminals (in Belize City and the main Pier in Caye Caulker) to their names (company names to themselves) without the expressed consent of the President of the CCWTA to the purported transfer.
Both terminals were leased to the CCWTA under the condition that it was an association, and not a private lucrative company. Instead of providing a better service to locals and tourist alike, they are left behind stranded now there is only one boat per hour because of the merging of schedules.
There are no longer Slack/Standby boats in the event they are sold out, they only sell tickets to capacity for the one boat on schedule, which more often than not, is over capacity, then the remainder are forced back to wait for the next scheduled boat.
Now that school is reopened, school children are made to sacrifice especially since past schedules were designed with the students in mind where island students could have travelled unhindered to and from San Pedro or in Belize City without paying those huge boarding costs.
The prices of tickets need not be that high many believe that this new monopoly is a conspiracy for profiteering and nothing more. It cannot be called competition; because it is seemingly a merger, obviously hidden. There is only one group of owners even though it gives the appearance of two companies and Tickets are accepted from both companies at each other’s Terminals.
The people should know that owners of the San Pedro Water Taxi basically took control whilst members of the CCWTA were left hanging on a string without pay. It is strongly rumoured that the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, is in fact a new Shareholder in SP Water Taxi. The Port Authority, after harassing the CCWTA for months when there was competition, is now ALLOWING high obscene rates, and overcrowding on a daily basis, this is not Safe and endangers the lives of passengers, Tourists and Locals alike. There are STRONG rumours that a few of the past owners of the CCWTA intend to resume business operations, but have heard that the GOB will not ALLOW them to get off the ground. It seems that this seeming merger, is protected and condoned by the GOB to the fullest. The National Perspective