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Belize Bus Owners Association Prepare for the Worse #538080
09/03/19 05:34 AM
09/03/19 05:34 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,171
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

On Tuesday, representatives of the Belize Bus Owners Association will be meeting with representatives of Government in Belmopan. Credible reports are that if both sides cannot come to terms in that meeting commuters may be looking at a nationwide bus and taxi shutdown. Today, BBOA Communications Director Daren Stuart told Love News that they believe Government has been stalling, deliberately, and the association is not prepared to wait any longer for a resolution.

Darren Stuart, Communications Officer, Belize Bus Owners Association: “In my mind there is some kind of collusion or hanky panky going on to try to expeditiously license these foreign vehicles so that they can continue to operate in our country while we sit here and tolerate them to be buying time every time. I’m not thinking it is any coincidence, I am sure it is a delayed strategy, I am 100% sure it is delay tactics and it is not one bus that now carries the license plate, it is more than one. We were showed one yesterday again so it is happening. We have information of a Belize bus trying to get to Honduras and had to pass through Guatemala, the Guatemalan bus association they stopped them from going until a little while after they agreed to let them go under one condition, that a Guatemalan bus take the people to the Honduranian border while the Belize bus travel alongside empty; what sense does that make? They are insisting that their busses make money while the people are in their country so why is Belize any less fortunate, why can’t we get the same opportunities? That is all we’re fighting for. I had spoken to the president of the National Trade Union Congress on Saturday already and he had assured me that if it’s Belizean first it’s Belizean first so make of that what you may.”

Stuart had one parting shot for the Government, stating quote “If the Department of Transport or Ministry of Tourism cannot understand that this is all about Belizeans first, then God bless Belize.”


Belize Bus Association won’t back down and is prepared to strike

There is heightened tension within the transportation industry where a final decision has not been reached on buses from Mexico and Guatemala that travel through Belize. The Belize Bus Association has devised a plan of action and is ready to put it in effect if the Ministry of Transport does not grant their requests come this Tuesday. The B.B.A. was assured that the foreign buses would only be allowed one run for the day but that decision has been delayed pending a meeting with tourism stakeholders. The B.B.A. met on Saturday to discuss the way forward after their meeting with government representatives was rescheduled from last Thursday to this Tuesday. All indications are that the B.B.A. will be holding industrial action but Secretary of the Belize Bus Association Ewart Metzgen says they are hoping it doesn’t have to reach that far.

Ewart Metzgen, Secretary, Belize Bus Association

“Our plan of action was put together and we now wait upon what will happen from the meeting tomorrow evening after we meet with the ministers in Belmopan.”

Dalila Ical

“The hope is however that some amicable solution is reached, or are you guys fixed on your request and if you do not get it then this plan of action is rolling?”

Ewart Metzgen

“Yes we have met and we have already agreed on what we wanted when we met with the AG and Ministers Panton and the Minister of Transport at our last meeting a couple days ago. And, we have no intentions on going back on what was agreed upon there. And, we were a bit surprised when we were told by the Minister of Transport that it was the Minister of Tourism that it was the BTB that has a problem with the paper that was presented to cabinet, because we had met with the minister, we had met with the folks from the BTB along with the ambassador from Belize to Guatemala Mr. Said Guerra and all that we needed to work out was worked out there. They said that they had no written agreement, there was nothing binding between the tourism sector and the Government of Belize with the Guatemalans. So, our problem was here at home with the Department of Transport. This is now the third time this meeting is being set with us. Previously, two weeks, Tuesday ago, it was supposed to be held. It was postponed until last week Thursday. Then we were all in Belmopan when we were told at the last minute that the meeting would not take place and that was really what stirred us to say, well, something is wrong here. We are being pushed around. We are being taken for fools. So that is when we called this emergency meeting that took place on Saturday and we put a plan in place and we plan to execute it and we hope that we don’t have to because really we don’t want to go through all that and to put our people, our Belizean people in a bit of stress or a bit of strain for however long we decide to sit out. But, the ball is in the hands of the minister right now. They, whatever happens and whatever takes place is on him, because we don’t want to go where we are planning to go and if we have to go there we will. We won’t back down. Another thing, we know that the security forces will be used against us and we are prepared for that but we have to stand up for what we believe in and for what is rightfully something that as Belizeans we should be able to have.”

There are thirty members in the B.B.A., including all major bus companies. Metzgen says they have also secured the support of other associations and unions.

Channel 5

Re: Belize Bus Owners Association Prepare for the Worse [Re: Marty] #538095
09/04/19 06:21 AM
09/04/19 06:21 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,171
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Nationwide strike turned down after agreement was met between Bus Owners and Government

Bus Brinkmanship: Operators Win, Gov't Capitulates

If you are a commuter who was concerned that the Belize Bus Association would follow through on their threats to shut down public transportation countrywide, you can breathe easier tonight. The Government met with them this evening, and the two sides have agreed to finalize the implementation of restrictions, which will limit the number of foreign-owned buses that can operate in Belize.

As we told you, the bus operators were pressing the Government to require the foreign-owned buses to hand-off their passengers at the border and allow the local operators to take over and transport those passengers to whichever part of the country they were traveling to. They say that they should not be excluded from such revenue-earning opportunities.

Several weeks ago, they got the Government to see things from their perspective, but last week, after hearing the concerns from the tourism industry, GOB postponed the intended implementation until the bus operators could meet with representatives from the tourism industry since this decision would affect their guests.

The bus operators interpreted this as a delaying tactic to frustrate them, and so, they made it clear that if they didn't get good news from today's meeting, they were prepared to go on strike.

Well, that closed-doors meeting happened today in Belmopan at the NEMO building, and after an hour and a half of discussions, the two sides emerged to announce that the Government was going to give the bus operators what they were asking for.

The awaiting media spoke with Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte about the delay and the Statutory Instrument that will be drafted to finalize this decision. Here's how that conversation went:

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
"On August 7th when we met we agreed to what a new SI would contain. We just wanted the Bus Association and the Taxi Association to appreciate that when you solve one problem or please one sector of the public other sectors are affected as well. Immediately after the decision we made on August 7th there was starting to be some kickback from the Mexicans form the Guatemalans, it was already affecting the local tourism industry. We felt that it was important that whole we would not change our mind based on the agreement we had on August 7th. We want the Taxi and the Bus Association to appreciate that when you solve that problem it created other problems. The hotel association and the Ministry of Tourism had that opportunity today to express their concerns about the decisions we have made and what we have done through the SI for the Bus and taxi Association. We have explained to the Bus and Taxi Association that there will be a test period between now and October 8th to see the effects of the SI. If everything works out fine and it creates any problems that are manageable then we just proceed to deal with those. If it creates problems that we cannot fix or problems that are too big then we have all agreed that we will sit down and reassess the position that we have taken. Because at the end of the day, whatever affects one aspect of the tourism industry will affect every aspect of it. So reasonable heads prevailed today, the Hotel association, they are not happy but at the same time they are prepared to wait and see what will be the implementation of the SI for the next five weeks or so."

"As it stands, what is contained within the new Statutory Instrument?"

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
"Well essentially, because we are a part of the Central American corridor, if a Mexican bus wants to go to Guatemala and just in transit through Belize, they will present a manifest at the Mexican Border. Transit through Belize, do not drop off any passengers, do not pick up any passengers and enter Guatemala with those same passengers. One bus will enter Belize form Mexico and go to the terminal in Belize City to bring people from Mexico to Belize. There will be one stop in Orange walk and the next stop will be in Belize City. But the only people that will be able to get on that bus are people who have tickets internationally. So for you to get on that bus in Belize City, you must be going to Mexico. If you get on that bus in Orange Walk you must be going to Mexico and the same thing in the western corridor. You get on that bus in Belize City you must be going to Guatemala with one stop in Belmopan for people who want to go to Guatemala from Belmopan. But there will be no stops along the way to pick up people for other stops within Belize especially. But that essentially what the SI will cover."

So, as you heard, there will be a trial period to ensure that this decision is sustainable, and to ensure that the negative impacts on the affected stakeholders are kept minimal. We got a chance to speak with the President of Bus Association, and we asked him straight up, are the bus operators satisfied? Here's how he answered that one:

Thomas Shaw, President, Belize Bus Association
"Yes we are satisfied, it has been a long haul and I want to say a big thank you to G.O.B. for actually listening to us. And as I said at times we got frustrated and we thought that it would actually never happen but in reality tomorrow the AG stated that this SI will be signed."

"Now, you're looking at the issue of road worthiness for some of the vessels that will be traversing our highways. And we are looking at buses that are pretty old and some of them are in pretty bad shape. How do you guys as an association plan to conform to certain standards particularly to compete with ADO or Delorio?

Thomas Shaw, President, Belize Bus Association
"Well to be honest with you that question that you ask us something that the association has already worked upon. Because we have so many tour operators in this country. We have operators in this country that has been upgraded tremendously over the past couple of years. We have the biggest tour company here in this country which is Premiere Charters. They are actually a part of our association. We have other operators that have the same type of buses and actually can give the same type of service that these guys are giving at the moment."

John Burgos, Executive Director, B.T.I.A.
"First and foremost we are in support of the Belizean people first. We know the issue is not as clear cut as it seems to be. But I am very satisfied to see that some of the people on the table inside were willing to compromise and discuss. And to see how it is going to work out. So we are going to see how its implementation as of tomorrow is going to impact. Like I mentioned to the tour operators and the bus owners, we represent the private sector, we are not here to say that it's wrong, we just going to look at how it's going to impact hoteliers and how it's going to impact other tour operators as well."

The press also got an opportunity to ask the Attorney General and the Minister of Transport if this process couldn't have been sped up. Here's how that part of the conversation went:

"Could this have been resolved in a more timely manner?"

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
"Well, you would want everything to be solve today, this evening by 5. Unfortunately, that's how it goes. In a negotiation, in a back and forth the bus and taxi association have certain demands we couldn't give in to just like that. We wanted to keep everything in place which was unacceptable to them. So it takes time for you to negotiate back and forth and at some point come to a compromise position. It doesn't always take two minutes for that to happen."

"Couldn't this thing have settled long before it got to other players coming in? lile the attorney general and the prime minister's CEO?"

Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport
"No, not at all. If I went ahead and make a decision without consultation with the tour operators, without consultation with the taxi's, without consultation with the hoteliers, you might say I am behaving like my last name, like a real dictator. Man, what happened to consultation? What is so wrong with consulting with all the stakeholders? I think we have done the right thing. We are doing the right thing - consult with all those who might be affected so for us to say well we should have gotten it done two months ago, 6 months ago, 6 years ago - that's nonsense. We are here now and we are making a giant leap."

In preparation for the change, the operators who will take over at the northern and western borders have already started to plan out the logistical changes that will be necessary to make the transition. The President of the BBA told us that he has a meeting with the tourism stakeholders on Thursday to discuss what plans will be implemented to look after those European tourists who booked their bus tickets with the foreign operators to come to Belize several months ago.

Transport Minister Says Bus Operators Need to Step Up

So, now that the bus operators are getting their way when it comes to the tourists visiting the country, the Transport Minister wants to see them give a far better service to the Belizean public.

Throughout the dispute, fingers were pointed at him and the Government for foot-dragging, and so when the topic came up, he seized on the opportunity to take a jab at the local bus operators for the subpar service they provide.

Here's what he had to say:

Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport
"When you go out there I know the general public still see - I ride my bike. I see the bus operators and a lot of them who are here, they run today, tomorrow - you will see them with standees. They need to live up to their part of the arrangement too, because the general Belizean population are looking out for a better quality of service from them as well. We are accommodating them to take over the tourists coming into our country whether it's from the northern or western border pr wherever, but also the general public out there need a better transportation system, still waiting and relying on them selling ticket rather than bashing those who are selling tickets - join together so that when you buy your ticket and you know you want to go to Corozal or Orange Walk - you could buy your ticket go home and relax. Those things still need to be implemented. The Belizean population is still looking for that. They are not doing that, but yet we are trying to assist them to deal with now another segment of the population or tourists coming into our country, but the bus operators they need to be real to the general public as well and do their part. They want a raise because this or that wasn't right - we provide a raise for them - standardize the prices. They say that they would have done this and that, they are falling down on it was well. I want to see better busses in our country. I want to see that we the general population out there also have nice busses like the busses they will provide to go and pick up the tourists at the western border and the busses that they will replace going to the northern border. The general grandma and grandpa out there who wants to catch the bus doesn't want to be standing on the bus and have to get battered by someone. We need to provide better services for those people as well."

These commitments from bus owners that Castro is referring to were agreed upon several months ago when the bus fares were increased.

Channel 7

Re: Belize Bus Owners Association Prepare for the Worse [Re: Marty] #538116
09/05/19 05:45 AM
09/05/19 05:45 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,171
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

In Belmopan this morning, Minister of Transport Honorable Edmond Castro signed a new Statutory Instrument to regulate international buses from neighboring countries (Guatemala and Mexico) entering Belize, in accordance with agreements reached among representatives from the Ministry and Department of Transport, the Belizean Bus Association and Taxi Federation, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Attorney General Office, and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce.

The essence of the agreement reached, as reflected in the new S.I, is that only one regular bus run per day would be allowed from each country entering Belize, and returning to the respective country. Those buses would only be allowed to drop off passengers within the country who travel with them from across the border. And, on their return trip to Guatemala or Mexico, they would only be authorized to pick up passengers heading across the border into those respective countries. In addition, if a Guatemalan Bus wants to transport passengers to Mexico, simply transiting Belize, or vice versa (Mexico to Guatemala), a manifest fully documenting those passengers must be presented at the respective border (western or northern). It was also agreed that there will be a test period between now and October 8, at which time the effects of the new S.I would be evaluated.

The signing of the Statutory Instrument by Honorable Edmond Castro this morning was witnessed by representatives from Belizean Bus Association and Taxi Federation. President of the Belizean Bus Association, Thomas “Andy” Shaw expressed great satisfaction that the matter has been resolved in the interest of all concerned, particularly for the benefit of the people and country of Belize. He conveyed tremendous gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Belize, specifically Prime Minister Right Honorable Dean Barrow, Transport Minister Honorable Edmond Castro, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Honorable Manuel Heredia, Attorney General Honorable Michael Peyrefitte; and Minister of State with responsibility for Investment, Trade and Commerce, Honorable Tracy Panton, for their understanding and goodwill.

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