Taxi blockades resulted in big losses, chambers say

Restaurants and tourism operators were big losers Wednesday when informal taxi drivers blockaded major highways.

Both the Cámera Nacional de Turismo and the Cámara Costarricense de Restaurantes deplored the lack of action by the government.

The restaurant chamber estimated that the average eating place lost 1 million colons due to the 12-hour blockade.

The tourism chamber said that visits to the volcanos and museums and city tours were considerably diminished.

The chamber also sketched what happened on the General Cañas highway as tourists were trapped by blockades. Many missed their flights from Juan Santamaría airport. Others hiked to the airport from their blockaded transportation carrying or dragging their suitcases.

Pablo Heriberto Abarca, president of the tourism chamber, said that the government on one hand accepts the protests and on the other says that no more blockades will be tolerated.

Casa Presidencial reported Thursday that the representatives of the  Servicios Especiales Estables de Taxi promised that their drivers, the  porteadores, would author no more blockades.

Negotiations continued Thursday night over a government ruling that would reduce the number of informal taxis to about 30 percent.

The restaurant chamber estimated that in addition to the lost to the establishment, waiters lost tips they might have received because potential customers were tied up in traffic. Bars were losers, too, even though there was a Costa Rican national soccer team match on televsion. Both chambers said they deplored the impact on foreign tourists who were caught in the protest.

The economic loss pales in comparison to the vehicle death of two women in an Alajuela crash. The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said that the driver tried to avoid the blockade by porteadores on the Bernardo Soto highway and pulled into the path of a tractor trailer.

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