Civic Center Demolished Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00

Civic CenterThe sound of mauls thumping on concrete and pry bars ripping zinc has become the mainstay of the area surrounding the Belize City Center. The building is being demolished after it was deemed unfit to carry on the function it was built to do. According to project manager at the site, Reina Gonzalez, the main columns rising from the foundation are rotten at the very end. Because of this, the structure is unsound and needed to be demolished. Now 90 men and women from Belize City and about 50 percent of them from the Back-A-Town area are putting their manpower and sweat into tearing it down.

Francis Woods is the Chief Executive officer for CISCO construction, the company who got the 1.2 million dollar contract to dismantle the Civic Center. He told the Guardian that the project will be ongoing for about 5 months. Work began on Monday, September 23rd and is progressing quite rapidly. “I am frightened at the speed at which they are tearing it down,” commented Woods. His surprise is well justified, the men and women doing the work are using the most basic of tools including mauls, hammers, shovels and wheel barrows. And they put their backs into it causing a cacophony of human chatter, shovels scraping the ground, mauls beating on concrete, bleachers being ripped apart and zinc siding being torn off the building. As the material is being removed from the building, about 90 percent of it will be recycled.

Woods says that the bleachers, zinc siding, and huge steel columns will be transported to the Marion Jones Sporting Complex since they will be used on other projects. The concrete rubble that is taken will be hauled to the Yarborough football field where it will be used to reclaim land to expand the size of the pitch.        

Reina Gonzalez says that indeed most of the structure is salvageable and explained that as they go about the salvage operation, much care must be taken. She explained that while the demolition appears to be an easy job, in reality it is not. As the work progresses there is careful inspection of the work being done to ensure safety at all times. Hourly checks are done on the structure to note any movement and to adjust the work plan in the event that any shift is detected. As the structure is being dismantled it is noted that there are areas that are significantly undermined and care must be taken at all times. Asked if the building was suited for its use, Gonzalez said it was, however the builders did not take into consideration the “aggressiveness of the environment” and did not properly secure the building’s foundation which rotted because they were left exposed.   

Now the demolition is in progress and Woods explains that his company has opted to go almost completely manual because, “it makes good business sense to hire them. They are smart, strong and want to work.” With the over 90 men and women hired, Woods said he was fund of the project because it gave him the opportunity to hire a lot of people instead of using machines.  “We would have spent money on equipment and now that money is now staying in communities,” he stated.

At the completion of CISCO’s work all that will be left will be a foundation which will give rise to a 30 million dollar facility that will fully be financed by the Government of Belize.