Maintaining three billion dollars worth of infrastructure Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

burns avenue2.jpg - 92.83 KbThe Ministry of Public Works and Transport is now preparing to conduct a study on the way forward for the continued maintenance and improvement of some three billion dollars worth of roads and other infrastructure.  This will occur as the Ministry of Works continues to improve road infrastructure across the Country. This bit of good news was revealed last week by Chief Engineer Lennox Bradley and if all goes as planned, within the next four years all of Belize’s national highways will be at very improved standards. Some of these improvements on Belize’s road networks are now taking place through the efforts of the Government of Belize in partnership with several international development organizations.

In the Cayo Central Division work has begun with the concreting of streets for aesthetic purposes and for it to serve a longer period of time. As of this past Sunday several work crews were out on Bishop Martin Street to pave it with concrete and it is expected that this project will cost half a million dollars. Also in the pipe line is the concreting of Requena Street in an effort “ transform Santa Elena into a Town that is the envy of all,” says Area Representative and Minister of Works and Transport, the Hon. Rene Montero.

Meanwhile; work on the Loma Luz Boulevard in Santa Elena is being done by contractor CISCO with funding from the Caribbean Development Bank. This road will feed into the San Ignacio and Santa Elena By-pass, which is being prepared to cross the Macal River.

Indeed; work is also being prepared for the actual construction of the bridge to start in the latter part of October or early November of this year. Two of the lots, the La Loma Luz Boulevard in Santa Elena and the Joseph Andrews Drive in San Ignacio  have been substantially completed. The Public Works is now dealing with the lots related to the approaches of the planned bridge, located in the Naranjal, slightly North of the Cemetery in San Ignacio and the Trapiche Road in Santa Elena, which will then connect to the La Loma Luz Boulevard. When completed the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Bypass will span some 500 feet across the Macal River and according to Chief Engineer Lennox Bradley will become the longest bridge in Belize.

Work on the concreting of King’s Street and Burns Avenue in the central business section of San Ignacio or Cayo North Division have also recently been completed.

But preparatory and actual work is also continuing on road sections in other parts of Belize. According to Errol Gentle, Chief Executive Officer within the Ministry of Works and Transport, this is all in an effort to make the lives of Belizeans better.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has commenced the design for the section of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and the Western Border in Benque Viejo del Carmen as an agreement is about to be signed with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Also ongoing is the design works for the Hummingbird Highway, which is now at an advanced stage and when completed, a signing will be done with the OPEC Fund for International Development OFID. Actions are also being taken by the Government of Belize to improve the entire 55 miles of the Hummingbird Highway.

What is left is that section from Belize City to Belmopan, which the Caribbean Development Bank CDB is now upgrading to improve road safety.

The Hopkins Road, which is being done by Belize Road Way is expected to be complete by September of next year. There had been some delays with the Hopkins Road because it is in low lying areas. When finished, the five miles of the Hopkins road way will add tremendously to the assets of Hopkins, which has become a major tourist attraction.

Further in the South, the Jalacte Road is nearing completion, and when it does it will open new opportunities for trade in agriculture and tourism between Belize and Guatemala.

In the North of Belize, the sugar roads are being done by Tyco and those roads are well on completion date and they are going in accordance to the contractor agreements. Where some problems were encountered was with the San Estevan Road, where there were design flaws and the material that was initially utilized was not of the proper kind. As a result, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Economic Development and the banker had met with the contractor about three weeks ago and agreed on the date of completion for the San Estevan Road, which will be for September  of next year; albeit one year late.

As to the study that the Ministry of Works and Transport is planning to do, it is hoped that this study will give answers on how the Ministry will be configured. As part of that study, the consultants will look at institutional and legal reform of the Ministry and at financial mechanisms where the subsidy now being obtained from Central Government for maintenance could be complemented by user fees.

“We could derive user fees to complement the maintenance monies that we get on an annual basis and that is going to a dedicated fund specifically for maintenance, but of course where the legal reforms will come in, we will have to go to the public with this because the private sector will have to be very involved with this issue,” says Lennox Bradley.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:13