(QCOSTARICA) Claro and Movistar have taken, for some time, to selling from vehicles parked on public roads and prohibited areas, starting in San Jose and now can be found in Cartago, Alajuela and other cities around the country. But are they legal?
In San Jose, for example, the constant battle between the Municipal Police (Policia Municial) and street vendors has been an ogoing street war for years: the vendors set up shop in the middle of the street, using the pedestrian boulevards as their showcases, constantly on the lookout for police patrols, closing shop temporarily to set up again moments later, after the police leave the area.
But what about the vehicles of the major cellular phone operators like Claro, Movistar and Kolbi, that many times cause traffic congestion in the narrow streets of downtown San Jose?
According to Marcelo Solano, chief of the San Jose Municipal Police, they are illegal, peddling in public space.
“They use the streets and sometimes the sidewalks, the vehicle becomes a stationary point of sale, where they sell cellular phones, phone cards and sim cards,” said Solano.
However, unlike the other street vendors, the situation is complicated when it comes to these large companies who already have numerous storefront locations in the hear of the capital city, that according to Solano, “these companies do not need public roads of the capital or most of the country to be successful”.
The Municipal Police action is limited. For now.
Solano explains that if the merchandise is out of the vehicle, police can confiscate it, otherwise it is deemed to be on private property and out of their reach. The parked vehicle is a transit authority problem and currently the San Jose Municipal Police force does not have the authority.
But that will all change in the coming weeks. Solano said that the San Jose Municipal Police will have, starting in September, a municipal transit police unit with the authority to tag and/or two illegally parked vehicles.
The Municipal Police chief said they will soon have officials and two trucks and will have no problem in removing these vehicles.