San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny

Posted By: J A Rebel

San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny - 12/08/10 09:05 PM

San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny

The San Pedro Traffic Department is under serious community scrutiny from allegation of corruption to accusation made against the chairperson of the board. Our San Pedro based correspondent Jorge Aldana has been working on this story since last week and filed the following report.

Jorge Aldana - Reporting
It is almost two years that the businesses of the Traffic Department were handed to the various municipalities with the intention to give the Town Councils more autonomy. In the case of San Pedro, the Town Council has full jurisdiction over the importation of vehicles and golf carts, the collection of licenses and even the approval of driver’s licenses. But when you are in a small knitted community like San Pedro, where everyone basically knows everyone, it is easy to know and see when something is happening. So when vehicles are being imported on the island even when a moratorium is in place or when words hit the streets that the Traffic Department approved the importation of a large quantity of golf carts for the Deputy Mayor, it was all enough reasons for the community to bring the council to question. But now even the sale of driver’s licenses across the counter which is undocumented at the San Pedro Traffic Department is being questioned.
Deputy Mayor of San Pedro Pablo Ico, who has responsibility of Transport on Ambergris Caye spoke to the media to answer the hard questions. First, Ico spoke on the issue of corruption within the Transport Department stating that they are working to address the problem.

Deputy Mayor – San Pedro Town Council
“From the past, before we took over transport, there was a lot of that corruption going on. Everybody noticed, everybody was aware of that but nobody wanted to take the task, I guess, and do any kind of changes and whatever. Since it is a small community and everyone is related to everybody and when you try to do a change for the betterment of something, you will get everybody pissed off.”
Jorge Aldana – Love FM Correspondent
“But then how do you dealing with this issue on a platform of transparency and accountability and anti-corruption?”
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
Well right now as is, we are still finalizing our books with the registration of driver’s licenses and all that. We have a lot of gaps in between those, which hopefully we can get to the bottom of all this very soon. We are going through driver’s licenses and serial number. There is a lot of serial numbers that are gone missing.”
Jorge Aldana – Love Correspondent
“But you are somebody who claimed to stand up for principle and you are the Deputy Mayor and responsible for transport; so then how do you intend to go about addressing this issue where you can’t keep accountability of where the registration documents are and who has legitimate licenses?”
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“Like what I said, we are working on it right now because everything is being done manually, they don’t have a data base and they don’t have everything set up where you can access it through computer. We are digging out all the files but as is, on a daily bases we are getting licenses coming up and when we try checking the record and when we find out, there is no record on those. So what we are doing is asking them to go through the complete process of applying and getting their learner’s licenses.”

Ico also address questions on the importation of vehicles despite a moratorium being in effect for Ambergris Caye.

Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“We do have a moratorium on the importation of vehicles to the island. But when it comes to a request or a recommendation from any minister, it’s always honor. At some point they do have the upper hand and they (minister) say this one can get one or this one can be approved. Like what I said, in the past it has been done. There have been different cases that ministers recommend that some people be assisted and so forth.”
Jorge Aldana- Love Correspondent
“When you speak of ministers, which one are you referring to in particular?”
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“Well, I would say any minister in general; it doesn’t have to be any particular minister but any minister that is in power can make recommendations or request and we honor it and we respect their recommendations.”
Jorge Aldana – Love Correspondent
“But then if you have a case where you have 25 people going to the minister for instance, will you guys honor that?”
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“Of course not!”
Jorge Aldana- Love Correspondent
“Well then, does it go by the bases of who you are and what is your name thing? You have many people on the island who have their application at the traffic department for years and now you have certain people that can just walk up to the minister and say, look just sign this recommendation so that the traffic department can approve it. I mean is this a new way that people can still get their permit approved despite the moratorium?
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“ I understand (long pause). Well we in the board, when we get a recommendation from any of the ministers, we go through more questioning in it.”

But Ico is also on the spotlight after the transport department board, which he chairs, approved him a permit to importation 25 golf carts on the island back in October of this year.

Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“It is never a one person deal. It is a whole board and the application did go through the board and like what I mention to you in the past and to everybody, it’s a legal business. It is just a permit; it is not like I am granted cash as a token or whatever. I have served in the local government for a second term. This is just a legal business that my family wants to conduct and I don’t see why it would be an eye opener for anybody. As is right now, the island has about 15 gold cart rentals and of all these golf cart company you tell me how many are Belizeans owned? It would be only like four.”
Jorge Aldana- Love Correspondent
“So it went through the proper channel for approval?”
Pablo Ico – Deputy Mayor
“Yes, it went through the channels. We sat with the board; the complete board was there, the only concern that some of the members had, is that they know that it has happen in the past whereby people front the company then sell it to make money. That was the only concern and they said that if that was the case the board would not approve it but this is a family owned business that we want to do between my family and me.”

The San Pedro Traffic Department Committee which oversees the Traffic Department comprises of the Mayor of San Pedro Elsa Paz, Chairman of the Committee Deputy Mayor Pablo Ico, a member of the Police Department, Osmin Rodriguez, Raul Gonzalez representing the Taxi Association and the Manger of the Traffic Department Chris Nunez.

This News report is sponsored by Gran Belizeans Estate Limited.

Reporting for Love News from San Pedro Town, I am Jorge Aldana.
Posted By: GwenA

Re: San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny - 12/08/10 10:51 PM

OMG!I just sent a letter to Traffic when they sent a letter back to me that an abandoned vehicle was removed...and it's still there!
I hate the cars/small SUVs on the Island, when Town Board members said they did too. How did they get approved?
There is now a flat bed truck on the Island that is wider than half width of the streets. If it goes by, everybody has to back up and duck into driveways to let it go by!
I thought, after meeting the new transportation officer when I reregistered my golf cart, things were getting better! He actually inspected my cart, and only allowed one permit to be the past the clerks would punch out two or three...saying they made mistake and put them in a drawer (guessing they were giving them to friends..or selling them).
So, I thought things were getting better.
Now, the streets aren't graded as often. More people are speeding. The guys that drive the big trucks drive them up the middle of the streets because they don't know how to judge the size of their truck. There are more car/SUVs.
So, if my golf cart is inspected more carefully each year when I reregistered it, my driving experience around this island gets worse and worse.
I hope somebody knows why.
Posted By: GwenA

Re: San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny - 12/08/10 11:10 PM

Oh, and by the way, in my letter to the Town Board, I told them, if they have chased away the tourists; they only have us expats, viable business owners and employed people to provide the money it takes to run the town. So, I suggest, it would be nice to do their business in a proper way.
Posted By: Keller

Re: San Pedro Traffic Department under scrutiny - 12/09/10 12:40 AM

The next thing you know they will start giving the traffic police a commission on all the traffic tickets they write instead of putting the money towards grading some of the roads and filling the holes. It's a shame they let some residents wade through water while the members of town council and family and friends live high on the hog.
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