The Belize Bus Association has written to the Minister of Transport as well as the Prime Minister, threatening a nation-wide shutdown of the transport sector as bus operators have reached a boiling point waiting for the Ministry to address the issue of foreign bus runs into the country, which have cut into local operators’ bottom lines.
The association wrote to Minister of Transport, Edmond Castro, expressing its frustration with the lack of progress in finding a resolution for the issue more than four months after the operators held their first meeting on the matter. The association referenced its first meeting in April, and a subsequent meeting between Castro and Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, after which it was agreed a Statutory Instrument would be drafted to ratify the position.
A third meeting was held a month later, according to the association, in which they were told the SI would take about three weeks to draft. The operators say they have engaged in a number of meetings since and feel they are being given the run around. The letter states – “Our members are tired of this…” adding “we have exhausted the process of dialogue with GOB.” The letter said the operators have considered taking industrial action three times over the past four months but have decided to be patient. That patience, however, has worn thin as the operators say the bus runs from foreign companies are affecting their livelihoods.
The association is demanding that an SI passed in 2009, giving access to foreign companies to make runs in Belize, be repealed. The operators have informed the government, “It’s an SI or a SD (shut down).”
The association says it has discussed the issue with its membership, who have grown increasingly frustrated, and are ready to take action if there is no timely response. The Reporter understands that even within the association, the government has sympathizers that have tried to avoid the conflict reaching a head, however, the majority feel that enough time has passed and there hasn’t been an adequate response to the matter.The Reporter