Bus operators from the Orange Walk District are furious after a meeting held yesterday in Belmopan with the Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse and members of his ministry. In fact, we understand that all 11 bus operators walked out of the meeting yesterday.
The meeting was to present the new bus routes and Northern Zone schedules expected to come into effect on May 22nd. And after one look, bus operators from Orange Walk realized that they were being left with very little on their plates while operators from other districts were being given a full meal at their expense. In fact, we understand that Orange Walk bus operators were given runs from Orange Walk to Belize and back, while BBOC, a company from the west, was given all runs from Belize to Chetumal and back - despite assurances from Minister Melvin Hulse that no bus operators from other districts would be given runs in the north.
When we spoke to several Orange Walk bus operators this morning we were told that a letter directed to CEO in the Department of Transport Candelaria Saldivar had been drafted after a meeting last night.
The letter, signed by 11 bus operators of the Orange Walk District, states and we quote “Upon perusal of the circulated schedule, we as the Northern Bus Operators observed and pointed out that many of the routes that we held and applied for in accordance to your published schedule were not taken into account in the new schedule. After some discussion on the discrepancies of the above schedule as circulated we the Northern Zone Operators opted to stand and depart from the said meeting demonstrating our total disagreement with regards to the circulated schedule.” unquote.
According to the Northern Bus Operators the new bus routes and schedules are contrary to what was said at the February 12th meeting with Hulse. In the letter, they state, and we quote “We have taken a Unanimous decision to formally express the views and expectations of the Northern Bus Operators taking into account and trusting what was expressed to us on the previous two meetings with your department’s personnel - this being emphasizing transparency, restructuring within the industry, the practices of democracy and respect for due process which have been the basis for consideration in developing the new schedule for the northern zone.” Unquote
In the letter carbon copied to a number of Ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, the Northern Bus Operators request that the Ministry of Transport revisit the schedule and incorporate as much as possible the current service runs by Northern Bus Operators. Upon agreement of the updated and amended runs, the implementation should be no less than three weeks during which time the department of transport and operators shall engage in educating commuters as to the changes and implementation of the approved schedule. Finally, the Northern Bus Operators state that their request will safeguard their current investments and most importantly reflect commuters’ satisfaction and comfort thereby injecting positive development to the Bus Industry in Northern Belize.