The Government of Belize is planning to invest $50 million in the Belize Water Service Limited for an expansion project that will see water and sewer services introduced to northern Ambergris Caye. The announcement was made by both San Pedro Town Mayo Daniel Guerrero and Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. during a consultation meeting on Tuesday, November 22nd at the San Pedro Lions Den.
The two political leaders made the announcement in response to two questions raised about the island’s waste management at a public consultation regarding the Ambergris Caye Land Use Development Plan which is a project under the Sustainable Tourism Project. “Having the proper infrastructure is very essential as this island grows. There is a $50 million investment for the expansion and infrastructural development of the water and sewer system for the north of the island which will be forthcoming next year. This has been in the planning stage for some years now, and we are finally pleased to say it has been approved as a project proposal. There are already some work being done, which includes a number of studies to develop the concept material. In addition, we have already looked for and identified the land that will be needed for the sewer ponds. Physical implementation will take some more time, we estimate a maximum of two years, but it is a proposed project that Cabinet has agreed upon,” Heredia announced.
The proposed project will see water and sewer lines expanded from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge and as far north as the Costa Maya Resort area, a distance that is approximately six and a half miles long. The area that the proposed project will impact is already seeing rapid development, including construction of multimillion-dollar megaresorts. According to Heredia, having seen the multimillion- dollar investments made by the private sector, the Government of Belize (GOB) is committed to investing monies in an effort to improve the tourism image of the island.
Local residents have long debated the GOB’s investment priorities for the island, especially for those living in the areas that lack basic infrastructures, such as San Mateo. When questioned about the fact that one of the poorest areas in the country sits in the backyard of some of these mega developments that GOB intends to give an infrastructural boost to, Heredia said that it’s just a matter of time before San Mateo sees some help. In addition, for about five years now, Belize Water Service has installed sewer lines in the Boca del Rio area. However, residents in the area have been unable to connect to the public sewer system because of the lack of additional sewer pump stations in the area.
“San Mateo is in the plan with the infrastructural expansion that will be made around the Town Core areas. We plan to tap into the $50 million dollars to improve the water and sewer in areas such San Mateo, San Pedro and DFC as well as up north. The proposed project will see the construction of sewer ponds, the installation of main water and sewer pipelines for over six miles. However this infrastructural expansion project will not be taken into subdivisions that are not developed. This water and sewer project will have to run within the official government declared road,” said Heredia. The Minister said that before the end of December, proper electricity will be expanded to the San Mateo area, which he hopes will usher other infrastructural development for those area residents.
As for the road expansion project for the northern part of the island, Heredia explained that Cabinet has accepted a proposal to endorse the current road survey being conducted as an official road for the northern part of Ambergris Caye. That proposal is for the official roads to run parallel with the Belize Electricity Limited’s power lines. “None of the roads that we currently have and use are declared roads. We have taken a decision that we will use the defined pathway utilized by BEL to run their power lines, to develop as the declared road. If we don’t do that then we will have all sorts of roads leading us to nowhere.”
Before the proposed water and sewer project can be implemented, GOB must ‘declare a road” so that the water and sewer pipelines can run parallel along the road. There was no indication from Heredia where GOB will access the $50 million from and if the proposed project will be reflected in the 2014/2015 financial year.
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