Constitutional Court says transport routes can’t be controlled by private business

In the major cities of the Dominican Republic there are powerful business organizations (“syndicates”) that control mass transportation. They range from those that control the ubiquitous inner city publicos (multi-fare paying taxis) to the major bus routes along the nation’s streets and highways.

The nation’s highest court, the Constitutional Court has just issued its Sentence TC-0330-21 that states public transportation routes belong to the state and never should they be privately owned since they are part of the nation’s patrimony. Since the transportation routes are the exclusive property of the state, they cannot be sold, donated, exchanged, or any other type of legal operation that includes the transfer of he absolute control or a part thereof, says the ruling.

The court noted that Article 43 of Law 63-17 (the traffic law that substitutes the old Law 241) says that the public transportation routes are state property. Any use of the routes must be authorized by a license, issued by the Land Transportation and Traffic Institute (Intrant) and the local city governments.

This case arose because a syndicate in San Cristobal did not allow a driver to exercise his right to work on a certain route. An editorial in the Listin Diario notes just how violent some of the syndicates can be when they feel that their “exclusive” use of the routs has been violated.

There is no accounting available for quantifying the money involved. Because of the practice of issuing monopolic permits to use a certain route, there is no Metro Bus service to the East. The reality to this day is that no individual can enter a route, even with a permit from the city government, unless he pays the syndicate a set sum every day, week, or month. In Santo Domingo, buses have been burned, drivers killed when one bus company (“transporter union”) disputes the right to control a certain route.

Read more in Spanish:
Listin Diario

4 October 2021