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Floralia may be off the highways in December – High Court rules permits for southern bus runs to Floralia Limited were unconstitutionally given

Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2023. 11:00 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While the decision has been stayed until December so as not to inconvenience commuters, the High Court have ruled in a case of judicial review that the Transport Board, Chief Transport Officer and the Minister and CEO in the Ministry of Transport acted unlawfully in granting road service permits to Floralia Limited for routes in the South.

Floralia obtained the permits in 2021 and 2022 for the Belize City to Independence and Belize City to Punta Gorda routes in competition with, respectively, Griga Line and James Bus Line. But as Senior Counsel Dean Barrow told reporters this evening, “…the Transport Board improperly did two things, it gave Floralia runs from Punta Gorda to Belize City and back and specified times that were altogether too close to the times that James Bus Line who’s been serving that southernmost district for years and years, too close to the times that they had. Also though, it gave Floralia runs between Dangriga, between Stann Creek and Belize City without considering the fact that Bryant Williams had been operating those runs for some years although in the name of his deceased uncle.”

According to Barrow, the business was not officially transferred into Bryant Williams’ name so the Board decided it had no obligation to continue with him.

James was awarded damages for business interference, cutting into their profits, while Williams will receive damages for the complete removal of his permits. Those damages will be assessed at a later date.

The effect of the judgment is that the Transport Board’s decision in favour of Floralia did not give proper notice, did not consider other bids for permits and was ultra vires the law. With those permits being canceled, new applications must be submitted by companies, including Floralia, that would be interested in taking up the runs.

Barrow said, “The decision means that in going back to do a proper and fair consideration now, the Transport Board will have to start all over. Notices have to be published giving alerting the bus owners and members of the general public when meetings will be held. New applications will have to be filed by Floralia and others and so that will take some time.”

And for that reason, Justice Genevieve Chabot “sensibly,” in Barrow’s view, suspended the effect of the judgment until December 10, otherwise the runs would end immediately and there would be a delay due to the proper process being carried out.

The Board and Ministry are also to be sued in respect of the removal of runs from Ritchie’s Bus Line in Placencia, also awarded to Floralia.

 

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