Food vendors at the Belmopan Bus Terminal claim that they are on the brink of losing their business to the more established Indian Businessmen. We resorted to an off camera interview because though they emphatically embrace their stance against what they call inequality, they say they remain fearful of losing their only source of livelihood.
Vendor 1: “There has to be equality. We all have the same rights; all of us want to survive and to win what we work for”.
Reporter Emanuel Pech : “What are the things that you would like to include or implement here?”
Vendor 1: “Well that there would be more comfort in respect to not carrying and bringing back the stock everyday to our house, to have at least the right to electricity to connect a refrigerator, so we don’t have to see more unnecessary waste of money on ice”.
Vendor 1: “No we don’t have that right because the contract itself says it. I don’t’ remember all the points of the contract, but they are various, including tem points that say we cannot home electric appliances for which our customers are asking so that we sell food of good taste and quality”.
We spoke to another Vendor who has been working there for over 8 years. He told us that he started selling food outside the terminal, but under the leadership of the former CEO of the Ministry of Transport Candelaria Saldivar, the vendors were given a contract to sell food inside. It was a blessing for them at the time, he said; however, their contracts now restrain them from upgrading their stalls, losing their competitiveness. The Indian Businessmen on the other hand are not restricted by this contract, he says they are being allowed to establish their own electrical meter outside their booth, a benefit they don’t have.
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “So, they don’t pay transport for that?”
Vendor 2: “No, no, no, but in a sense dehn pay anda the table to ground mole”.
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “And what do you think, would you invest in something like that?”
Vendor 2: “Well, if the man allow yes, but like I said , the man no conh do dih aada fih he. Al ah we hin do da just give the Hindu the preference. Furthermore, the man dih chase out every Belizean outta dih terminal da Belize and putting out the Hindu. So, e luk like dih sienting da Belmopan, but…e ahn be war”.
There is growing unrest in the terminal, well that’s what these vendors have alluded to but is it the same on the other side?. We spoke to one Indian Vendor who just opened business yesterday
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “Has there been any conflict?”
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “Some are concerned that your business is affecting because of competition, especially those little stall over there, right?”
Hindu Vendor: “People, lot of their shops, more business, they are empty. So, I don’t think this time I open… and if it is affecting, I don’t’ really bother”.
From the onset, the concerns of the Terminal vendors seemed to be mere speculations; however, today we contacted a senior member of the Belmopan Bus Terminal Administration who told us he shares the vendors same concerns.
According to him, he has noticed a growing trend of Indian businessmen establishing business, with added benefits, in terminals all over the country. According to reliable sources, the Department has no input in these new vendors as their permission comes straight from the Ministerial level.