On Friday afternoon on Orange Street, Belize City, there was a clash over enforcement of the right of members of the Albert Street Taxi Union to park in their designated stand. An unknown vehicle took up a spot in the designated parking area for the Union on Orange Street, and operator Albert Cattouse, who was trying to park after coming back from a run, objected. He describes what happened.
“There was a car parked in here. I went to that officer that wrote this ticket right here. I asked her to please move that car, so I could park in my stand. She said she can’t do nothing about it, and she did nothing about it.
So what I did, where my car was at, I pull it up behind the private car that park in the taxi stand. So when I pull up behind the private car, that means the traffic can’t flow, expecting that the private can is going to move, so I [can] get into the stand. She came up and write me this ticket, with an attitude. She always be having an attitude with me.
So I got upset, and I started saying things, that maybe I should have never said. But this is the way the chips fall, and this is the way they’re going to always fall, and if this traffic officer don’t respect me, I won’t respect her. She keep disrespecting me, this officer.”
According to Albert Cattouse, another officer intervened and got the vehicle to move, but it was not ticketed as he was. He says he will fight the matter in municipal court and claims the Belize City Council’s traffic department is biased against him and other operators in the area, because they object when they see something wrong.
We spoke to the traffic officer in question, a female, off-camera and she says she had all intention of addressing the situation, but Mr Cattouse acted disrespectfully toward her, and was in clear contravention of the law, by blocking the way on Orange Street heading into Albert Street. She told us that all she was doing was her job and she saw no reason for him to be disrespectful to her.
Two regular police officers also had to intervene to calm the situation. Albert Cattouse says that people regularly park illegally in their designated areas on Albert, Church and Orange Streets without being cited by the traffic officers, not to mention other areas in the downtown.