Work on the cleaning of Douglas Jones Canal was abruptly suspended on Tuesday due to several health and safety concerns raised by the Ministry of Works, through the Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Project. The temporary delay angered a number of manual workers who suddenly found themselves without jobs. Prior to the stoppage the men had been working in highly polluted and effluent-filled discharge water without personnel protective equipment. But following a meeting on Wednesday with the management of Medina’s Construction Ltd., work resumed on the project and the workers were called back to their jobs. While all’s well that ends well, the obvious question is why proceed with the concreting of Douglas Jones Street if remedial work to connect adjacent drains to the underground canal was pending? Mayor Bradley explains the rationale behind that decision.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“What we did when we started the infrastructure program through the bond initiative is that we had a meeting with all relevant stakeholders. This included several of the utility companies, including the water company, the electricity company and the telecommunications company. We consulted with the cable company. We consulted with several of the other projects that were going on. We worked closely with the STP and also the Flood Mitigation [Infrastructure] Project and we coordinated with them as best as we could. We told them in terms of our timeline that we wanted to do Douglas Jones Street, they told us that you can do Douglas Jones Street because their works will only involve cleaning out the canal under the streets. They will also then connect that canal through Cinderella Plaza, up Baymen Avenue and then it’s gonna go through Calle al Mar and through an outflow that is being built currently beside the Princess Hotel at Sand Lighter’s Promenade. So that what we did when we agreed with them is to allow free areas. Many of the people complain, “Why Mr. Mayor did you do ninety percent of Baymen Avenue and you left a certain area undone?” We left that undone because we agreed with the Flood Mitigation [Infrastructure] Project that when they were ready because when you are dealing with bond proceeds you can move quicker because all of that is local funding. When you’re dealing with an internationally funded program you have to deal with their procurement requirements and their timeline, so that projects that are internationally funded usually take years. I remember that when I came on board they briefed me about the Flood Mitigation [Infrastructure] Project and now we are arriving at the end of my term and we are still talking about the Flood Mitigation [Infrastructure] Project.”
Works on Douglas Jones Street is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.