November 12, 2014
Please afford me some space in your most respected newspaper to register a serious concern regarding the current Customs checkpoints that are being set up on the Philip Goldson Highway during the dawn hours of the week.
Today as I was coming to school in the 4:30 a.m. bus from Orange Walk to Belize City, I was awakened from my sleep by the sound of loud tire screeches and brakes from the bus that I was coming in. As I checked if perhaps some domestic animal has inadvertently crossed the highway, I noticed that yet another bus was haphazardly stopped on the left-hand side of the highway with Custom Officers swarming that bus.
This took place outside Biscayne Village, where no lampposts with lights were evident. I observed that a Customs pickup truck was also parked on a narrow lane by the highway without any visible lights on to warn incoming traffic of their presence. Furthermore, there were only 3 fluorescent cones on the middle of the highway about ten feet apart, without any lights of any kind to further signal to drivers that a checkpoint had been set and thus recognize that they should slow down.
As our bus was thoroughly checked, it was evident that Customs Officers were behaving very disrespectfully and discourteously to the driver and conductor of the other bus, referring to them as “idiots” since they were unable to see the checkpoint.
It was indeed a very discouraging scene to observe and be a part of, since the unnecessary use of vulgar language and threats on the part of the Customs Officers was resoundingly offensive to everyone on board both buses.
To add insult to injury, that bus was further unlawfully detained by these Customs Officers for simply not stopping on time on the camouflaged checkpoint as claimed by these same public officers.
With this in mind, I must underscore that these incidents of disrespect from Custom Officers are very common, especially in these days when the frequencies of contraband misdemeanors from the North are very much common due to the Christmas season now already on us.
I humbly advise to the Customs Department and by extension the Police Department to please set up their checkpoints in a very conspicuous manner, especially considering that the darkness of the night seriously camouflages the cones in the middle of the highway.
Moreover, ensure that these fluorescent cones be placed at least quarter mile from each other so as to ensure that drivers be duly and properly warned of their presence. Perhaps setting up these checkpoints on or very close to bumps can also be a safer way to conduct searches.
Finally, please be respectful and professional when conducting your duties. You guys are certainly not above anyone in this blessed land.
Sadie Vernon Technical High School