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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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The Corozal United Taxi Operators (CUTO) told Amandala yesterday that they are losing money and customers to a rival taxi group, the Corozal Rural, Town and Village Taxi Union (CRTVTU).

The rival taxi group, they say, is conducting unfair competition practices by undercharging customers and not following the rules and regulations of the taxi trade. The situation is seriously impacting their livelihoods, and a violent confrontation is foreseen, CUTO told the newspaper.

CUTO, led by Victor Arcurio, has been in existence for over 30 years and is the biggest taxi association in Corozal, while the rival CRTVTU, which began operations in January, is led by Luis Alcoser.

Arcurio told Amandala that the taxi fare has been set at $2.50 from Corozal Town to the northern border, a distance of about 9 miles, but the rival union is now only charging $2.00. Arcurio said that his operators cannot afford to undertake the 18-mile journey to and from the northern border for $4 due to the high cost of living, and the high cost of fuel.

Besides losing customers headed to the northern border, CUTO has five other areas in town from which they service the town and rural areas. When a job is offered to the group that runs to the northern border, the customer is taken to the group that runs to the villages, and the price is set at $5, but now the rival union is now also getting into that arrangement and are charging customers $2.50 to go to the villages, some distances of 15 miles, making a 30-mile journey to and from the village for $5 instead of $10.

Arcurio said that operators who do runs to the villages are now losing customers, especially since the laying off of over 135 workers from the Corozal Free Zone. When the few customers who go to them are told that the price is $5 for a ride to the village, passengers protest and express words of anger, claiming that they have only paid $2.50 for a ride to the village by the other union.

Arcurio showed Amandala a log that shows that drivers only make four trips to the northern border, carrying 6 passengers, and $15 is collected on each job for a total of $60 for the day, out of which $30 for gas must be deducted, giving them only $30 to take home to their families.

However, due to the harsh competition, the operators may not have $30 to take home to their family at the end of the day, said Arcurio.

The president said that the two men, brothers, who began the rival union were a part of CUTO, but they began breaking the laws and bylaws of the organization, which led to them being expelled by the executive, after many warning and notices.

The brothers then sued CUTO for $7,000 for dismissing them, and for $3,500 each for lost wages for the money they claimed they would have earned in a month.

The brothers then secured permission to form their taxi union, which began operation in January with about five members, and they began operation from in front of the Asia Restaurant, just across the road from the bus stop, which is their base station.

Arcurio said that Asia Restaurant also has a taxi union, but it operates from 6:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning. When the Asia Taxis are also operating, there is a congestion of taxis, because it is a small area. Arcurio said that the Asia Restaurant taxi union is also losing money and business due to the presence of the rival union.

Acurio said that the CRTVTU does not observe the law and carries more than six passengers in their vehicles, which is unsafe, and that they operate out of their designated area and beyond their allotted time, which should be up to 7:00 in the evening. Acurio said they operate all hours in the night, while CUTO abides by policy and carries up to six passengers, and adheres to their close-off time of 7:00 in the evening.

Arcurio said that the CUTO is not stopping anyone from making a living, but fair practices must be observed; the rival operators must stick to the standard price and not pick up or solicit passengers outside of the designated area. He said that CUTO cannot take in anymore operators, because they already have too many members.

He is also calling on the Mayor of Corozal, the police and the Government to address their situation because they are trying to avoid confrontation or retaliation, which he said will be violent.

In reply, Luis Alcoser, of the rival CRTVTU, told Amandala that due to the massive layoffs in Corozal, and because people do not have money, they cut prices to work with the people. He reiterated that they reduced the fare from Corozal to the border by $0.50, and their price is $2, and to the villages is $2.50.

Alcoser said that he also wants to work with CUTO and agrees they should work together, but he understands that the people do not have money, and wants CUTO to understand the same thing. He said that they also are seeking to expel the two brothers from their union, CRTVTU, due to their intolerable behavior, and a meeting will be held to expel them.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
OP Offline
Taxi Operators at War in Corozal Town

Dear Editor,

Please allow us space in your newspaper to share with the general public a grave injustice and disrespect being done to us, the Corozal United Taxi Operators, here in Corozal Town.

Two years ago, the C.U.T.O. was registered with a membership of 21 taxi operators and 7 other operators on the Executive Committee. A constitution was drafted for the C.U.T.O. with twenty eight rules and regulations for its member operators.

After enduring harsh competition for passengers by operators of Gilharry and other taxi drivers who were not formally registered, mainly to the Free Zone, the Corozal Town Council decided to bring these operators to form the C.U.T.O.

This decision was also made to avoid racing for passengers on the streets in town, thereby easing the flow of traffic to and from the Free Zone and not putting the lives of commuters at risk. The Mayor of Corozal Town subsequently designated the site next to the Bus Terminal as our temporary parking station, at no cost, until a new terminal project is completed anytime in the near future.

But progress always brings problems. Two of our members soon began breaking the by-laws of the C.U.T.O. Their behavior became intolerable including crashing into the vehicle of a fellow taxi operator, failure to attend meetings, and openly throwing verbal attacks on the Executive Committee. After a number of verbal and written warnings, the C.U.T.O. voted unanimously to expel the two members. Their letters of dismissal were handed to them on 2nd December, 2013.

Shortly after, the two expelled members began boasting that they would form their own Union because they had "pull strings" in Belmopan. Well, they indeed got their way and in January this year they began operating as the Corozal Rural and Town Taxi Union with 5 or so members.

What the C.U.T.O. finds utterly disrespectful and unfair is that this tiny group of operators has been operating right next to the Asia Taxi Union which has a license from 6pm to 6am. Wasn't there a more safer location to accommodate this taxi union than allow them to park less than thirty feet from a street corner as the law requires, and, where a third taxi union operates right in front of the Bus Terminal?

Furthermore, this small group of operators drive all around town displaying signs of "$2.00 BORDER" in their vans, undermining the $2.50 fee that we charge due to the skyrocketing price of fuel. The C.U.T.O. has also been informed that this small group of operators are often harassing freelance taxi operators, mainly those who provide their service in the rural areas, to join their union or face the risk of losing their licenses!

To make matters worse for the C.U.T.O., the two former taxi members who were expelled have sued the C.U.T.O. for $3,500 each, claiming "loss of a month's income". The matter got its first adjournment in Court a few days ago.

While the C.R.T.T.U. are allowed to carry more than 6 passengers in their vehicle and operate beyond the hours they have been licensed, the same treatment is not extended to our C.U.T.O. For instance, one of our operators was recently ticketed $200 by Transport officials just for taking a seventh passenger home - a handicapped girl.

May we reiterate to the travelling public especially Corozalenos that a number of meetings with taxi operators has been held, and another meeting is planned with the presidents of all 4 taxi unions to get a resolution to the ongoing taxi crisis here in Corozal. Now that there has been a massive lay-off recently at the Free Zone, we wonder how much more patient can we remain as operators of the C.U.T.O.? We need the Town Council of Corozal and the Government to take our plight seriously and take every measure to avoid a possible confrontation or retaliation. We don't need to go that way.

Yours sincerely,

Taxi Operators
Corozal United Taxi Operators (C.U.T.O)

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