It is at least fifteen years now that Belize City has needed a fourth bridge across the Haulover Creek. Presently, as you know, we have the Swing Bridge, BelChina, and Belcan, so we have arguably been operating with only 75 percent of bridge requirements for almost two decades in the nation’s population center.
The reason the fourth bridge has not been constructed is because of sociology and politics. When the fourth bridge was to be constructed, it would have linked the western section of Lake Independence, which is an economically depressed area, with a southern section of the Freetown constituency which is slightly upper class. No matter that there are economically depressed areas of Freetown which are a stone’s throw from the “slightly upper class” area, the slightly upper class residents of Freetown have pressured successive PUP area representatives to fight against the bridge. These slightly upper class Belizeans are afraid of poor people from the Lake coming across the proposed bridge and committing crimes, or, at least, lowering their property values.
Well, there are poor people in that area of Freetown who are potential criminals, but, even if that were not so, nowadays the criminals ride in cars, so if they want to leave from the Southside to commit crimes on the Northside, they don’t have to walk across the proposed fourth bridge: they can drive in their own vehicles, or, if they want to, “jack” one and drive across the Belcan, the BelChina, or the Swing Bridge. Still, nothing we write here will change the minds of the slightly upper class people of Freetown: they will continue to fight against the fourth bridge until kingdom come.
With Belize City operating for almost two decades at 75 percent of bridge requirements, the Belize City Mayor’s decision to take the most important of the three present bridges, Belcan, out of commission for weeks leading into months, is devastating to the economy of Belize City. It means that we are operating at 50 percent of bridge requirements. If anything happened, God forbid, to any of the two presently in operation – BelChina and Swing Bridge, it would be an absolute disaster. We would then be down to 25 percent of bridge requirements.
From our perspective, the Belizeans on whom the Mayor has inflicted the most pain are the taxi drivers. After the great inconvenience he occasioned them, and us, with his unnecessary concrete work on the Save-U approach to the Belcan, the Mayor could have given us a couple weeks respite before he took on the Farmers’ Market side of the Belcan exit. But it’s not only that: the good Mayor is promising us that as soon as he finishes that, he will take on the flag monument roundabout, which will close down the Belcan both from Northside to Southside, and Southside to Northside. Glory be.
To make things worse, the Mayor has taken on all this while the North Front Street entry into Swing Bridge has been closed, which makes the surrounding Northside and Southside traffic even worse than it has to be with the Belcan closure.
So far, Belize City drivers seem to have been uncharacteristically patient, but the Mayor can be assured that there is much frustration, and it has been building for weeks and months. We suggest to the Mayor that he hold off on the flag monument roundabout and give us a chance to catch our breaths. Remember, Mr. Mayor, last year at Christmas you hurt us with the Pallotti works, then you kicked us with the Freetown Road project. It is a matter of many months we are waiting for some ease. Young Mr. Mayor, sir, Rome was not built in a day. Slow fire cook di best beans. Slow down and smell some coffee.
On the other side, Mr. Freetown area rep and your worthy constituents: we needed another bridge fifteen years ago. So where are we going to put it except where it should logically be? Between the PUP and the UDP, everything is upside down. Presumably, we have to turn to God …