Chauffeurs break negotiations with government officials in ongoing permit row

July 23, 2015

Meetings between government officials and representatives of private chauffeurs, known in Costa Rica as porteadores, ended Wednesday evening without an agreement.

The president of the Porteadores Chamber, Byron Marcos, said recent actions by the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) “are provoking us to protest again in the streets.”

Marcos referred to a series of notifications sent to chauffeur companies in which MOPT confirms a reduction in the number of operating permits, as the Public Transport Council (CTP) announced last month.

The CTP in June decided to renew only 1,324 Special Taxi Service (SEE TAXI) permits of an existing 2,562. Private chauffeurs reacted by blocking several roads in protest across the country on July 8.

Transport Vice Minister Sebastián Urbina said the agreement with porteadores to end the blockades did not include the suspension of CTP decisions.

Urbina said notifications are administrative warnings to all porteadores who failed to comply with minimum requirements to renew permits, and that those warnings “do not affect current negotiations at all.”

Marcos, however, claims that Traffic Police officers in recent days fined several of the porteadores who had their SEE TAXI permits revoked. He also said chamber members next week would meet with companies across the country to plan tactics for coming days, which could include more street blockades.

Ombudswoman Montserrat Solano, who was acting as a moderator during negotiations on Wednesday, confirmed her office would not continue attending the meetings.

Following the porteadores’ announcement President Luis Guillermo Solís told reporters at a public event in the northwestern province of Guanacaste that National Police officers would act to prevent roadblocks.

“I warned them once. That means I will keep my promise,” Solís said, referring to orders not to allow more blockades, which he issued two weeks ago.

President Solís ordered police to clear the roads after an ambulance was unable to reach the scene of a car accident in Alajuela in which two people died. A child in one of the cars was subsequently transported by helicopter to the National Children’s Hospital.

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