Thursday, 29 October 2020

Legislator Pursues Own Interest

Last Monday, more than 100 porteadores (informal taxis) blocked roads around San José in protest. | Photo: ALONSO TENORIO.
Last Monday, more than 100 porteadores (informal taxis) blocked roads around San José in protest. | Photo: ALONSO TENORIO.

Legislator for the Movimiento Libertario party, Jose Alberto Alfaro, in urging the Administration to force the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) -Ministry of Public Works and Transport – to ignore regulations governing transport,  had more than economics in mind, reported the national newspaper La Nacion.

Former “porteadores” (informal or gypsy cabs) have been protesting the requirement that they use transport no older than 15 years.

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Alfaro is the founder and director of the transport company Unión Nacional de Porteadores S. A. (Unaporte), which according to records of the Consejo de Transporte Público (CTP) – Concessions Council – it owns 772 concessions, spread out over several cantons, the majority in San José, Alajuela and Cartago.

Alfaro ran Unaporte until last March when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. Public records indicate the manager and owner” of Unaporte was to his wife, surnamed Cordero, a common practice in Costa Rica given that legislators are supposed to remain neutral during their four year term.

However, Alfaro is still listed as president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Porters Association (the informal taxi association), according to the Public Registry.

From his “curul” (legislative seat), Alfaro has made in the last few days requests to the govrnment regulates the law that regulates the activity of  the special taxi service.

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The urgency for regulations is to avoid cancellation of the codes (plates) for this service before the expiry of the deadline for renewal.

Given this risk, the legislator requested in June meetings with the Minister of Transport, Carlos Segnini and had an audience with the Deputy Minister, Sebastian Urbina.

The new regulations are an attempt to get newer vehicles on the road, especially trucks and taxis. In June, Alfaro petitioned MOPT Minister Carlos Segnini and his second in commander, Sebastian Urbina, for personal meetings. He also participated in the roadblocks Monday to protest the new rules.

Transport Minister Segnini told the press that he has not met with Alfaro, but confirmed that the deputy Urbina has.

Complicating Alfaro’s position is the appointment of German Lobo as his legislative chief of staff. Lobo is the spokesman and director of the porteadores.

Otto Guevara, former presidential candidate, leader of the Movimiento Libertario, a party with four legislators in the Legislative Assembly, and legislator, says he sees no ethical problem, noting that it is legal for legislators to have business activities and supports Alfaro.

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Article by, with editing by QCostarica

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