RICOS Q – There as a time when I always had a ¢5,000 colones note stuffed in my wallet near my driver’s license. This was a time when “mordidas” or “chorizos” (bribes ot payoffs) where part of the driving culture in Costa Rica.
In those days, transitos (traffic officials) worked long hours and weren’t paid very well. So was the explanation often defending the practice of taking a few colones here and there and everywhere.
The exception to that practice was when “operativos” gathered a number of transitos in one location, for example spotchecks for drunk driving, marchamos, etc. It was either pay off everybody or nobody. The latter was the custom, mostly because among the transitos on site there wasn’t the confidence that one or more were not on the take.
In the last decade, with changes to the traffic laws and their high fines and perhaps more professionalism among the officials, it was harder to find a transito that would accept a bribe. Offering one was also a dangerous practice, as many a driver were reported by the ‘honest’ transito of the attempted bribe.
On Monday, March 27, 2023, with the signing of the executive decree by President Rodrigo Chaves, and the Minister of Transport, Luis Amador, traffic Police officers throughout the country will have the obligation to work half the day without remuneration for overtime.
The guideline, made official Monday in La Gaceta, repeals the regulations issued in 2016 that authorized the payment of overtime in ordinary days of between eight and 12 hours worked.
The action is justified, according to the Government, in a pronouncement of the Attorney General’s Office that establishes that this police body must adhere to article 143 of the Labor Code, which indicates some positions that by their nature must work that period without right more than an hour and a half of rest.
This is in addition to a recent decision establishing, within the framework of the approval of the public employment law, that the maximum payment of ¢466,000 monthly as salary remuneration for these public officials.
This, in my opinion, means that some or many or all of the highly overworked and underpaid traffic officials will seek out, openly or covertly, a way of supplementing their income.
Time to stuff that wallet again.