Twenty-four hours – that’s the deadline given to Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse by the Belizean Bus Association…resolve the situation by midday on Thursday or else.
Now that’s a very strong, clear message to the UDP political bigwigs, and from what we’ve seen so far, these bus operators aren’t joking.
In a nutshell, the situation is this – the Belize Bus Owner’s Cooperative was shifted from the west to the north, and the western route was given to a new line, Westline, which is owned by a well known UDP crony. Now keep in mind that BBOC was given the northern route despite constant assurances by Minister Hulse that no new operator would be brought in since there are enough existing operators who can handle that schedule. So anyway, BBOC met with Minister Hulse because they want their western route back, and in that meeting they were assured by Hulse that nothing new would be implemented for a period of 21 days during which there would be further dialogue.
So with that ironclad commitment from Minister Hulse, imagine the surprise when the BBOC found itself locked out of the terminal in Belize City this past weekend – with no northern runs and no western runs.
So when we say the bus operators were angry, that’s an understatement, but considering the immediate and significant loss of revenue caused by the move, and the fact that BBOC was operating with the commitment of the Minister of Transport, we’d say that they have good reason to be outraged.
So that’s where we are today…a 24 hour deadline and a list of demands outlined in a press release. Prefacing the demands is the bold assertion – “we have been disrespected and betrayed by our Transportation Minister, Hon. Melvin Hulse.”
And those demands – (1) that Dean Barrow intervene so that the situation can be resolved; (2) that Westline be removed from its western runs; (3) that the BBOC should be reinstated and (4) that they be given the 21 days agreed upon by Minister Hulse, commencing upon the removal of Westline.
As we’ve said, indications are that the bus operators are not joking and if there is not some response from government they will, as they state in their release – take further action.