About 20 years ago, Chetumal Street in Belize City wasn’t much to talk about – it led into a budding housing community called Belama Phase two. Since then, Belama’s population has exploded – it’s now up to Phase 4 and has hinterlands extending beyond that. Chetumal street has turned into a major roadway, a gateway into that suburban sprawl. More than that, the street bearing the name of your favourite Mexican City is also going to lead to a third bridge spanning the Belize River and connecting north and southsides. So, then, it wouldn’t suffice anymore as a street. That’s why the city council upgraded it – into Chetumal Boulevard, concrete pavement with a dual carriage-way. It was opened today, and the news wasn’t the street, but the politicians who joined hands to cut the ribbon.
When the Mayor and the Leader of the opposition are shoulder to shoulder in the front row, you know it’s a major event – and, in this case, a major street transformed into a Boulevard.
Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City
"I think that this particular thorough-fair is of great importance and significant benefit to residents including the business community in this area"
Chetumal Boulevard is the major gateway into the Belama community and the pavement is white and fresh, even as the median is still a work in progress. It cost just under three quarter million dollars but that’s because of the drainage demands.
"It was done a little over three months at a cost of 708,000 Belize dollars and it was done by RJB Construction and of course you know the design was provided to us by Roque Matus and it was an impressive design. One of the things that we are pleased to have been able to do on this boulevard is to ensure that the drains were properly constructed and on this project the drains cost more than the streets."
So impressive that the Leader of the Opposition had no qualms about endorsing it and even cutting the ribbon. He’s the incumbent PUP representative for the Freetown Area.
Hon. Francis Fonseca - Leader Of The Opposition
"On behalf of the residents of Freetown and in particulary obviously the residents of the Belama community, I want to express my gratitude to the Mayor, to the Belize City Council, to contractors who made it possible, the labourers who toiled to do the work everyday. So on behalf of the residents, Mayor, we express our gratitude to you and to the council for understanding and appreciating the importance of this project"
It’s a simple gesture, but a rare show of bi-partisan support and Fonseca had no apologies fur supporting the man he calls his mayor - signaling an era change.
Hon. Francis Fonseca
"You know today in Belize as it has been for a very long time, politics is very devisive, very devisive and it is very rare, let me put it that way, it is very rare and very unusual for us to see politicians from different political parties together sharing the podium, sharing the spotlight, if you will. I believe and I think the Mayor because he and I have talked several times and we have remain in communication since he became the Mayor of Belize City and when we first met I said to him, Mayor the elections are over, you are the Mayor of Belize City, you are also my Mayor and I am going to do everything I can to support your work and I mean that. I think that old devisive politics is really the old school of politics and I think, I certainly hope that the new generation of politicians that we have and the new leaders who are emerging will understand that if we are going to deal and solve the very serious critical challenges and problems that our municipalities face"
"I think that his words were very insightful. After the election I had met with him and I had indicated to him some of the development plans that we have throughout the city and he had expressed his support and had urged on certain particular streets on behalf of the residents of the Freetown area. He had asked for streets like Gentle Avenue which we were able to find the budget for and he had indicated his concern on behalf of residents in this community on Apalo Street and these are areas we are trying to work along with him to address the concerns of residents of his community. He is the duly elected representative and we see no problem in terms of having him here representing the community of Freetown."
And while the political Kumbaya is heart-warming, what residents probably want to know is why is there ‘s a lamp-post in the middle of their street, or their sidewalk.
"There's a lamp-post on the pavement itself. There are lamp-posts on the side-walk. When you look at that, just from a layman's position looks like there was no design at all."
"It was a design, of course we have worked very closely with the utility companies, we have not so good of a relationship with BEL and we have indicated to them on numerous occasions that they had to remove these lamp posts. We had given them ample time, the utility upgrades for this street took atleast two months and we had written them, we are continually trying to have them remove this but of course I have no powers or to compell them to do that. It's a concern that we have had, of course the design for the street did not include the lamp post in the street and we had thought that they would have recognized their obligation and move the street, it has not been the case but we are continuing to try to work with them and hope that they would move it in the very near future"
And so while for the time being, you have to brake for lamp-posts- the street will be fully open to traffic on Monday.
The City council has now paved 64 streets and hopes to complete 100 by year’s end. But the proposed ten million dollar project to upgrade the northern highway form the city to the Haulover bridge has been stalled – later on, we’ll tell you why.