Traffic complaints plague island

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 14            April 11, 2002

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Development breeds challenges. While most people are happy with the improvements to the recently completed section of Coconut Drive behind Ramon's, there are still other complaints to find solutions to. Two of these are dust and speeding drivers.

    This week, the San Pedro Sun spoke with many people involved in these transportation issues to get a broad spectrum of facts and opinions. Several complaints from residents revolved around the dust being stirred up by passing motorists, a few dealt with speeding, some with the amount of vehicles allowed and one recount was from a bicyclist who was forced off the road. Interviews were also conducted with Mayor Alberto Nuñez, Airport Taxi Association President Victor Barbosa, and Armin Pol of the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee (ACTCC).

    Regarding the matter of dust, the Mayor stated the island water truck is, as of last weekend, back in service. He explained it is not the "proper" water truck that the town employed before, but accomplishes the task. He assured it is to be operated on a regular schedule, twice daily (morning and evening) during the dry season, except for Mondays when it must be used for refuse disposal.

    Speaking with Mr. Pol, he explained first of all, there is currently no moratorium for vehicles on the island. Rather, the ACTCC was formed to control the situation by allowing only one application per person per month. Pol stated that preference is given to golf carts over gas or diesel powered vehicles but other criteria such as proving the need for the vehicle, applies. He further explained that in order to receive a replacement (new) vehicle, a signed receipt from the traffic warden must be provided, stating the existing (old) vehicle had been transported off island. When questioned regarding the number of taxis operating these days, Pol replied that ACTCC is no longer issuing taxi permits. Mr. Pol informed that a meeting had recently been held between the taxi drivers and the ACTCC to address concerns of both parties.

    Airport Taxi Association President Victor Barbosa informed us that indeed, a meeting did take place in late March. Members of this organization, the Park Taxi Union and private taxi business owners invited the San Pedro Town Council, the ACTCC and the Area Representative to join them in a discussion. After a first meeting was postponed at the last minute, the taxi operators agreed to a second meeting on March 21st, but only Commissioner Glen Arthurs and Traffic Warden Debbie Spain of the ACTCC were in attendance. Mr. Barbosa stated the taxi operators concern that no more commercial-use vehicles (golf cart or taxi) be allowed on the island at this time. He stated their major objection to golf carts was a problem with battery disposal. According to Mr. Barbosa, the taxi operators further objected to the fact that taxi drivers have no representation on the ACTCC. He stated that the ACTCC representatives replied this was not possible but that they would invite a representative from the taxi operators to certain meetings to voice their concerns or suggestions. In regards to the issue of speeding taxis, Mr. Barbosa defended drivers in certain situations where they are relied on to get "fares" somewhere in a hurry. As a prime example of this, he referred to tourists or hotels who call a driver at the last-minute and need to be on time for their flight. Mr. Barbosa agreed that although this can be used as an excuse, possibly the ACTCC could provide speed patrols to ascertain whether or not to ticket violators instead of, or in addition to, their "spot checks".

    Armin Pol informed that the next meeting of the ACTCC is scheduled for April 25th and the taxi association has been invited to submit names for their representative.

    Regarding complaints, both Pol and Barbosa iterated the same advice. Anyone witnessing traffic violations by ANY driver should record as many details as possible about the incident, such as: 1) description of vehicle and license plate number, 2) date, time and location of incident, and 3) type(s) of violation(s). This information should be reported to the appropriate agency, business or organization responsible for monitoring the driver. For example, if the violator is a taxi driver, it should be reported to all of the following: the ACTCC (026-2198), the San Pedro Police Department (026-2022) and the pertinent association, union or business owner the driver is associated with. Both assured that violators face three-day work suspensions if found guilty of violating traffic and safety laws. It was learned that "repeat offenders" may face suspension of their license if found guilty in Magistrate's Court of numerous traffic charges.

    The public's cooperation in solving traffic challenges is being requested. Anyone wishing to offer concerns or suggestions should write the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee at P.O. Box 54, San Pedro Town, A.C., Belize.
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