Water taxi war in San Pedro

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 38            October 8, 2009

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On Monday morning San Pedro Belize Express was working via Ambergris Divers' Dock while Caye Caulker Water Taxi did runs from Tackle Box Pier.

The signs were being updated as well.

The police were on hand to keep the peace.


Two of the island’s water taxi services providing transportation to and from San Pedro Town and Belize City are, as of press time, operating as normal from La Isla Bonita. This followed an unexpected and sudden move by both water taxis to move from their respective docks and operate next to each other. Confusion was the word of the day when the situation built up on several occasions sparking a tense environment. It was so chaotic to the point that police officers were stationed on Black Coral Street from Monday and into Wednesday evening to ensure that law and order prevailed.

    Since its incorporation into the water taxi industry, the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (SP Belize Express) had been operating of the Tackle Box Dock, which is owned by Giovanni Marin. However, on Monday, SP Belize Express moved from their usual pier and had established their services out of Ambergris Divers’ dock, next to where they had previously been. According to SP Belize Express Manager Joshua Marin, that sudden decision came after they received word that Giovanni Marin had intentions of evicting them off his dock. “We received word that Giovanni had signed a contract with Caye Caulker Water Taxi to operate from his dock,” stated Joshua Marin, adding that, “his action took us off guard and we did what was necessary to ensure that we could continue to offer our services to the public.”

    Giovanni Marin blatantly rejected the allegations made by Joshua Marin. Giovanni claims that it was he who had gotten wind that SP Belize would move, explaining that, “for weeks I have been hearing that they wanted to break ties with me and move over to Ambergris Divers.”

    On Monday morning, when SP Belize Express set up shop and moved over to Ambergris Divers’ dock, the Caye Caulker Water Taxi, which was operating out of the Wet Willy’s dock, moved to the Tackle Box pier.

    Giovanni, who according to Joshua, was only an agent of SP Belize Express, told The San Pedro Sun that, “we [SP Belize Express and Giovanni Marin] had some serious internal problems and miscommunication and that led to the situation that we find ourselves in right now.”

    When both water taxis began their operations next to each other, some 50 feet away from each other, employees from both companies were visible on Black Coral Street competing fiercely for passengers. This was when members of the San Pedro Police Department were dispatched to the area next to the water taxis to prevent any confrontation.

    The issue of the Trade License however, was brought into light when the water taxi operators along with the dock owners met with the San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz on Monday evening. Trade licenses specify the location from which each water taxi should operate and as such, Mayor Paz asked the water taxi operators to return to their respective dock until paperwork changing their locations can be properly processed. As a result the San Pedro Belize Express is currently operating out of Tackle Box dock, while Caye Caulker has moved back to the Wet Willy’s Dock.

    In an interview, Joshua Marin expressed his uncertainty as to what would happen next, stressing that their services to and from San Pedro Town and Belize City will continue. SP Belize Express’ trade license, which is under the name of Giovanni Marin/San Pedro Belize Express, expires in December. However, Giovanni Marin stated that given the chain of events, he would direct his attorney to inform the SP Belize Express to leave his dock by the end of the week.

    Readers may remember back on October 2008 the Caye Caulker Water Taxi which was docking at Tackle Box was asked to move in order to make way for SP Belize Express. Caye Caulker Water Taxi was left with no alternative than to find docking at Wet Willy’s.



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