General — 10 September 2016 — by Albert J. Ciego
Benque taxi operators demonstrate

BENQUE VIEJO DEL CARMEN, Cayo District, Tues. Sept. 6, 2016–About 80 taxi drivers of 5 taxi associations of Benque Viejo Del Carmen Town, Cayo District, converged yesterday on the Benque Viejo Town Hall, where they staged a demonstration in front of the Mayor’s Office, demanding that the council take action against a van from Melchor De Mencos, Guatemala, and Melchor taxi drivers.

The taxi associations say that the van is transporting students from Melchor to schools in Benque Viejo, and that the Melchor taxi drivers put Belize taxi license plates on their cars, and after dropping off the students at the schools, offer taxi services, picking up people in the town, and taking away their jobs.

The angry taxi drivers say that the Melchor taxi drivers obtain their Belize taxi license plates from the transport authorities, and they are demanding an end to such a practice. The taxi drivers reported that this van is the 7th bus that is transporting the students from Melchor to Benque, and that they, the Belizean taxi drivers, are losing potential income as a result of the arrangement.

The 5 taxi associations are demanding that no permits be given to the van and the taxis from Melchor to cross the western border to come into Benque. They say that the buses and the taxis must leave the students at the border, and they (the Benque operators) should get the job of transporting the students from the border into town, to drop them off at their schools.

However, Amandala was told today by Inspector Stanley Bodden, Deputy Commander of Benque police, that 28 families of Petén, in Guatemala, collaborated and bought a van and registered it in Belize, so that the van could transport the students freely to Benque from Petén.

Some parents accompany the students to ensure that all goes well.

Inspector Bodden said that the van does not pick up passengers, and only transports students to and from school, and police are trying to make the Belize taxi operators understand that the van had paid the requisite duties and fees, and has the legal authorizatoin to transport the students to school.

Bodden said that they saw Guatemala vehicles being fitted with Belize license plates, but the vehicles are registered and can be legally operated in Belize.

He said that police cannot overrule the licensing body that issued the plates to the Guatemalan driver, and they cannot impound a vehicle that is operating legally on the roads in the town.

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