By Andrew Kolasinski.
Taxi drivers in Puerto Viejo took action against poor road conditions. Tuesday, February 1, dozens of cabbies blocked all routes into and out of town.
The barrier went up at 6 a.m. and was scheduled to open at 4 p.m.. This was an effort to spur the Costa Rican ministry of transport into bringing the main road up to acceptable standards. Visitors to the south Pacific coast will know this as one of the worst stretches of road in the country.
Bert Smith, a taxi driver for 15 years, says his Hyundai Accent will be rattled to pieces by only three years of service.
“The road is not good. We pay our taxes, and must pass a car inspection every year.”
At the blockade hundreds of locals and tourists were lined up in their vehicles, waiting to pass.
“We don’t want to affect the tourists. They might have to get to the airport, but we all need a better road,” said Bert.
Puerto Viejo’s cabbies took blockade action a year ago, with no result. This time a government road grader was at work, Bert believes, in an effort to pacify the drivers and create the illusion of progress.
First in line at the barrier, Jens Malert and Rasmus Karsties from Hamburg, Germany, had been waiting for over an hour.
“It’s a complete surprise. We have to return our rental car and catch our return flight at 6 p.m.,” said Jens.
The taxi drivers were going up and down the line of cars asking if anyone had urgent business on the other side. They allowed Jens and Rasmus to drive through after seeing their plane tickets.
Driver Bert Smith said the barrier will be lifted as soon as government officials arrive to acknowledge the problem.
“We are not such a poor country, yet Nicaragua has much better roads.”