SPTC still faced with traffic issues as they work on traffic SI for the island

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Residents on Ambergris Caye have registered their concerns to The San Pedro Sun in regards to the visibly growing numbers of private motor vehicles on the island. According to the complainants, the increase in private motor vehicles is adding to the traffic congestion especially during the busy time of the day – in the morning, lunchtime and after-work hours. But the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Daniel Guerrero says that because some of the licenses were already approved under the previous council, and faced with the fact that there was no legal moratorium, at this time there is not much the council can do. He did say however, that the council is working on a Statutory Instrument (SI) to address the traffic problems the island has been plagued with for the past ten years.
Traffic Congestion-2According to Mayor Guerrero, the reason people are noticing a spike in new vehicles around the island, is because the council is forced to honor permits issued under the administration of former Mayor Elsa Paz. “The importation of vehicles was never stopped. We are just honoring permits that were already given, but what we are doing is working on the size of vehicles that will be permitted on the island. Some people were given the permits under a previous administration, but took a while to bring in their vehicles. We have given out a few under our administration but are for people living outside of town core area, with a limit on vehicle size. Golf cart permits are automatic – once you qualify we cannot deny you a right to own a vehicle,” said Guerrero. The Mayor said that even when people apply for permit to import a vehicle, the council always encourages the applicant to consider importing a golf cart instead.

When asked about the moratorium that former Mayor Elsa Paz had announced, Guerrero said there was no such moratorium. “To have a moratorium, it must go through an entire process for it to be legal. What she (Elsa Paz) announced was not legal. It was even challenged before. To put a moratorium, it would have to go through a very long process, something she never followed, and we have spoken to our attorneys about it. I will not shy away from saying it, but we have not stopped issuing and honoring existing permits, but we are trying to downsize the size of both motor vehicle and taxis,” said Guerrero. He added that some people have been cooperating with the council and have chosen to bring smaller vehicles.

And while the increase of private motor vehicles is one issue, so are the taxis on the island. Not only have residents expressed displeasure at the attitude of most taxi drivers who stop wherever they want, drive above the speed limit and even take up most of the parking space in the down town area, but the issue of an increase in the number of taxi vehicles has also been questioned. “I agree that there is congestion when it comes to the parking and the area in which the taxis park. The congestion within the downtown area is caused by the same taxi drivers that exist right now because they are based within town. When we finish with our SI, things will change. All of them (taxi drivers) will not be allowed to park where they are currently parking. In addition, we cannot just stop the issuing of taxi permits because the town was not properly planned. We must work together in fixing the problem, identify parking areas, look at the size of vehicle that will be allowed to park on the streets within the town core, regulate the size of taxi and the number of taxis that will be allowed to be at their base at any given time – all of that will be address in the SI,” explained the Mayor.

The traffic issues drastically escalated during the past administration, and the council is working on an SI that will address some of the traffic problems. Mayor Guerrero would not say when the SI would be completed, but he did say that works in finalizing it is ongoing.

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