Despite a number of controversies including a national strike in the Transportation Industry, the Government of Belize went ahead and implemented the new zoning system for the northern part of the country on June 19th. In a meeting held in Orange Walk in the month of February, Minister of Transport Melvin Hulse, assured bus operators that just as the new zoning system was working in the southern and western part of the country, it was going to work in the north.
But a meeting held today with Northern Bus Operators and the Commissioner of Transport Gareth Murillo proved Hulse wrong. The meeting was set for ten this morning at the Gala Lounge but upon our arrival, Murillo informed the news team that no media would be allowed and that an interview would be granted after the meeting concluded. Murillo did state however that the main purpose of the meeting was to get a feedback from bus operators as to how the zoning system was working out.
The meeting concluded around midday but no one from the Ministry of Transport, including Murillo, was available for interviews. We did meet Murillo at the Orange Walk Transport Department but when we asked to speak to him, he refused to come out from the office of Senior Transport Officer Joel Nicholson.
So what happened during the meeting? Well, according to a few bus operators whom we spoke off camera, when Murillo questioned them about the new zoning system and what some of their concerns were, basically all hell broke loose. CTV3 understands that the majority of bus operators informed Murillo that the new system was not working and since its implementation they were losing money.
During the meeting it was also indicated that certain bus operators are not abiding by the new routes and schedules, hence why the Ministry of Transport decided that the new law will be enforced. Reports also indicate that Mayor Phillip De La Fuente arrived at the meeting uninvited. The Mayor, we understand, complained about the conditions of the bus terminal and about the traffic congestion that is seen in the area on a daily basis. But we understand that all his questions fell into deaf ears.