It has been a hard pill to swallow for business owners in downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. The San Pedro Town Council is limiting delivery of goods to stores/businesses from 2a.m. to 7a.m. and pushing business owners to make rush adjustments in their operational scheduling and hiring of new staff that could lead to a potential increase in the prices of goods and services for their customers.
The abrupt actions of the San Pedro Town Council in implementing these new regulations has led to confusion and local businesses to organize a group to address the many issues that have come up from these new regulations. At a meeting held last night, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, a group that represents a broad spectrum of businesses (that include delivery/cargo service, supermarkets, grocery stores, produce shops, hardware stores) was formed in order write an official letter to and meet with Mayor Daniel Guerrero expressing the concerns of the larger business sector.
Mayor Danny told Ambergris Today that the Town Council did not hold a public consultation because past consultations have not been productive and very poorly attended. Instead he stated that he and his team conducted private consultations with businesses that would be affected in the downtown area. On the contrary, most businesses at the meeting indicated that they were not consulted and that they only knew about the new changes less than a week before it was implemented through a letter from the San Pedro Town Council. It is understood that consultations are still taking place although the regulations came into effect at the beginning of the week.
The main objection on the new regulations that most businesses won’t stand behind is the mandatory delivery hours between 2a.m. and 7a.m. hours. Cargo operators explained that their barges arrive between 5a.m. to 7a.m. if they cannot deliver until 2a.m. the following day, perishable cargo will spoil, stores will receive goods late and they will also have issues with hiring new staff to handle the new shifts. All of this, they say will translate to higher costs for the consumers as businesses adjust to higher costs of operations.
Other issues discussed at the meeting include the hiring of security and more staff to handle graveyard shifts, increase in police patrols already lacking and purchasing of smaller vehicles that will be allowed by the Town Council for delivers. The new regulations implemented this week are already causing conflicts between delivery services and the traffic department. The group intends to meet with the mayor to come to agreeable and reasonable terms to the new delivery regulations for the island.
On the other hand, Mayor Danny already indicates a major improvement in traffic congestion in town core this week with the absence of large delivery vehicles and has promised to fix back roads and dirt streets, including open new roads on the back of the island to connect north and south for the delivery trucks to use for deliveries.
Some businesses have already started to adjust deliveries with smaller vehicles, SUV's and small pull trailers
Below is a press release from the San Pedro Town Council on the “CLARIFICATION ABOUT THE REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED FOR DELIVERIES”
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In an effort to solve the traffic issue that San Pedro, Ambergris Caye has been experiencing, the following guidelines are being implemented:
(i) Towards this objective, the San Pedro Town Council is strongly encouraging the business community in the downsizing of vehicles by using smaller vehicles; such as, Carry-All golf carts and motorized tricycles, to perform their daily delivery tasks in town.
(ii) The areas that are now to be affected are from Tarpon Street to the San Juan Roundabout. This includes Barrier Reef Drive and Pescador Drive. The recommended time for delivery is from 2:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. The only vehicles that will be allowed to deliver after 7:00 a.m. are Carry-All golf carts and motorized tricycles, as mentioned above.
(iii) Please take note that from Manta Ray Street (BWS office) to the San Pedro High School will be highly monitored for heavy vehicles between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on school days only to ensure the safety of the students commuting from their homes to the schools. No heavy vehicles should be in the area between the mentioned hours.
(iv) Vehicles that are exempted from these newly implemented regulations, for obvious reasons, are the following: vehicles with perishable goods (small pickup trucks such as Ford Rangers), utility vehicles, emergency vehicles and Town Council vehicles.
With the alleviation of traffic congestion and continued teamwork with the business community, San Pedro will once again have safer and quieter streets. This is the first step of a large master plan.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero and the San Pedro Town Council are currently having one-on-one consultations with the business community of San Pedro Town. Any suggestions that will help improve the alleviation of traffic congestion are more than welcomed.