Sunday, April 21, 2024

Taxi operators report unfair treatment from traffic officers at Central Park


The competition between taxi operators and golf cart rentals at Central Park has been an ongoing issue that led to the intervention of the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) in the past. Taxi drivers who visit Central Park to pick up water taxi passengers at busy times have reported that traffic wardens do not allow them to park. In contrast, golf cart rentals are reportedly allowed to stay and solicit. The SPTC has recently designated parking spaces for bicycles/motorbikes and private vehicles, and there is even a section near the catholic church for drop-off and pickups only. Outside of these newly marked spaces, taxi vans and golf cart rentals can still be observed, particularly when a water taxi arrives to the island.
Taxi drivers maintain that golf cart rental operators should not be soliciting at entry ports (water taxis/ airports) but at their respective rental businesses. They think if this is tolerated, taxi drivers should also be allowed to offer their services at the park. While frequently it is noted that both business operators are seen offering their services to passengers at the foot of the municipal dock, traffic wardens sometimes ask the large taxi vans to move from the driveway, which becomes congested. Taxi operators claim this is unfair as golf cart rentals are allowed to park around the park for an extended period.

The long-standing issue, with the aggressive competition between taxi operators and golf cart rentals, resulted in mild altercations in 2021, resulting in the SPTC stepping in to address the situation. According to the SPTC, golf cart rentals must operate within their trade license parameters. In a March 24, 2021 letter, the SPTC and the San Pedro Trade Licensing Board explained Section 6, Subsection 5 of the Trade Licensing Act, Chapter 66, of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011. This indicates, ‘ Where any trade is carried on in more than one premises, a separate application shall be made for each additional premises.’ The note further emphasized that trade licenses were issued for the businesses to operate from their respective offices. Working from another location is in direct contravention of the abovementioned Act. In the letter, the golf cart rental operators were asked to cease operating near the airstrip, Central Park, and other public spaces where they are not authorized. However, this appears not to be enforced.
Golf cart rental operators believe they must seek business outside their offices to get customers and sustain their establishments. They claim they can obtain only so much business via online and telephone bookings. They hope the local authorities can put a better system in place if there are frictions again.
While enforcement is reportedly minimal, taxi and golf cart operators continue competing at the ports of entry for customers. In past interviews, Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez stated his administration might have to deal with the issue differently as tourists have complained about the soliciting. Details of that alternative approach to solving the problem are yet to be provided. Authorities recommend that anyone experiencing issues and thinking traffic wardens are being unfair can visit the town board offices to discuss the situation.

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