By Ingrid Fernandez
The Corozal-Chetumal border this past Sunday, was a chaotic scene as buses were advised to not cross over into Chetumal due to massive floods, which were caused by a low-pressure system that impacted much of Belize as well.
Maria Dominguez, officer in charge of the Corozal Transport Department, shared that they received advice from Transport Commissioner Crispin Jeffries to discourage buses from advertising normal runs to the Mexican border.
There was no official memorandum, and no buses were officially detained, but verbal advice was given to conductors, especially after the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative (BBOC) continued advertising that they were carrying out normal runs to Chetumal.
According to the officer in charge of the Terminal Unit in Corozal, Lian Aragon, concerns arose due to high flood levels at the bridge connecting the northern town and the popular Mexican destination, which is regularly frequented by Belizeans on the weekends. The level of floods made it difficult for small vehicles to cross.
The Transport Department was not alone in warning northern commuters. As the weekend rains continued to pose hazards for travelers, on Monday, the Embassy of Mexico to Belize issued a travel warning, advising that the Chactemal bridge, which connects Belize to Mexico, was under 50 centimeters of water.
The embassy advised the public to desist from using the bridge until the floods receded to avoid hazards and casualties. The Embassy recommended that people travel only in high vehicles, utilizing the alternative ‘Subteniente Lopez’ bridge to cross and only in cases of emergency.
Also, after pictures on social media circulated, showing the scale of flooding in Chetumal, the Transport Department tried to avoid any accidents or hazards over the border. Following the advice issued from the Department, most vehicles stayed at the Santa Elena border.
The inclement weather in Corozal caused irregular bus runs with only 50 percent of buses following normal route schedules. The BBOC that normally operates four runs on Sundays, carried out only two and the Albion company that normally operates three runs, suspended all its trips.
Monday saw bus runs improve, however, only an approximate 85 percent of bus companies followed their normal routes.
Aragon attributed the problem to the lack of passengers willing to travel under the bad weather conditions. He claimed there were normal bus runs from Belize City to Corozal, however, on the way back there were few passengers.
The precautions issued by the Ministry of Transport and the Embassy of Mexico kept many safe, Dominguez said, adding that there were no accidents or casualties reported at the Corozal-Chetumal border, even as the country battled the storm.