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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 02:30 AM EDT

Requests To Make The Lists Of Compensated Bus Owners Public

Cars & TransportationFaced with complaints of alleged irregularities in the process of the payments of compensation for buses from the routes of the North and South Corridors, sectors of civil society are demanding that the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) make public the list of carriers that benefited from these payments. In this regard, Aidé Chu de Paredes, who representative the users of public transport, questioned before the Board of the ATTT the refusal of the Directors of the National Transport Chamber (Canatra) to disclose the names those bus owners who had received these payments. According to Chu, the excuse to keep secret the names of the owners secret for safety "is not a valid argument" because everyone in their communities knows who owns the buses. Two months ago, according to Ms. Chu, the four user representatives to the Board of the ATTT requested the report from the Administrative Rescue for Public Transport in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, however they were denied. "When it comes to public funds, there should not be any impediment to expose the accounts," said the leader.

The president of the Movement of 23 October, David Ramirez, went further and asked the government to stop the clearing process until after the conclusion of an investigation being conducted by the Fourth Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, started last March. Ramirez complained that the process of changing the the public transportation system is being tainted by corruption, while the victims of the public transport system are not being compensated, but the bus owners are.

FREE ACCESS - On Monday, the president of the Canatra, Dionisio Ortega, during a press conference reminded of the Government's agreement not to disclose the names of the bus owners to continue to cooperate in the process of changing the public transport system.

However, the lawyer Ernesto Cedeno said that under the Act 6 of 2002 on Transparency, information on these payments is of unrestricted access, because they are the product of the activities developed by the Government, about which every citizen should know, as auditors of public affairs.

On Tuesday, the director of the ATTT, Juan Pablo Mora, presented the list of bus routes from the North Corridor and South Corridor that have already been compensated at the Panama Chapter of Transparency International. The list detailed, according to Mora, that on the Southern Corridor 138 Red Devil owners were compensated, 119 air conditioned buses, and 26 with a capacity for 26 passengers. Meanwhile, on the Northern Corridor another 80 Red Devils left the system, 284 air conditioned buses, and 16 with capacity for 26 passengers, all for a total of $40 million dollars in compensation paid by the government. The director of the ATTT noted there is a commitment not to reveal the names of the carriers, however, if necessary, they will look for mechanisms to provide the required information. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: The idea that there was some sort of corruption in the payment of these checks is gaining ground. In fact, there has already been one arrest in Colon. As far as the request on the part of the bus owners for secrecy - screw that. Why should it be a secret who got paid, when, where, and how much? It's obvious that the government is buying these guys off with big fat checks to shut them up and to get them out of the way, but once they have the money and their buses are off of the road, they have just lost all of their clout. If the government does not fully disclose these details, and investigate any indications of wrong doing, then it will hurt them politically down the road.

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