Transportation issues plague San Pedro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 48            December 12, 2002

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"It has been brought to the Committee's attention that a number of vehicles are on the island without the necessary permission granted by the Committee," was a statement issued in an Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee document reaching The San Pedro Sun office last week. The letter addressed to the Minister of Transportation Maxwell Samuels was, according to Chairman for the Committee, Tirso Galvez, released to the media through the hands of someone else without his knowledge or consent. He stated that an investigation into this matter continues.

    Whether released by permission or not, it is no surprise to many residents that vehicles enter the island illegally. In support of the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee though, it must be noted that they make every attempt to do the job assigned to them in accordance with the Government of Belize Statutory Instrument No.125 of 1996. Monthly reports of the Traffic Committees' meetings appear in The San Pedro Sun including who is and who is not granted permission to import vehicles onto the island. Notices are given as to the standards of importation as well in these reports, one of the most "transparent" issued by either local or central government. It would appear from further comments in the letter, however, that some individuals, private and governmental, believe they are above the law or immune to these regulations made to govern the amount of vehicles allowed.  

    The letter also included valid reasons for the traffic committees' appeal by stating the following facts: "Presently, there are 965 vehicles on the island including golf carts, scooters, motorcycles, 4-wheelers, taxis, private motor vehicles and tractors. The Committee had agreed that only one motor vehicle per month would be approved, which means twelve motor vehicles annually apart from the several golf carts approved monthly. San Pedro is a small island, the streets are narrow and there must be a cut-off point for the importation of motor vehicles if we want it to remain as a tourist attraction. Tourism is one of Belize's largest income-generating resources."

    The letter ended with an appeal that any request for vehicle import made by the area representative be directed to the Minister of Transport, to avoid "any conflict with the decision-making of the Committee."

    In Tuesday's conversation with Chief Executive Officer Victor Gonzalez of the Ministry of Transport, he acknowledged receipt of the aforementioned letter and stated that he and Minister Samuels had studied it for content. On behalf of the ministry, the CEO assured a response would be issued regarding this situation in the next week or so.
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