The rapid deterioration of some Belize City streets as a result of four weeks of constant rains has prompted the Belize City Council to seek additional funds to extend its total number of streets that it will have given priority to as part of its infrastructure works, and the attention they will receive include drainage as well as resurfacing. Today Mayor Darrell Bradley told Love News that by the end of the street upgrades, the Council will have dealt with well over 100 streets.
“We are very hesitant to do remedial works on some streets until we get at least a week full of clear weather. What we are doing is we are ensuring that we can finish our hundred streets and I want to make very clear that the situation in Belize City would have been much worse if we had not done streets like Freetown Road and Orange Street. We finished 95 streets so far concreted. And these have ensured that residents in Belize City, at least the main areas, have a clear drive even when you see the four weeks of continued rains, the concreted streets have held up well. In respect of responding to the unprecedented rains we have had, what we are doing is that we are working closely with the Ministry of Finance and together with them, we will set out a series of infrastructure that will be done within Belize City and this is something that is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance and the City Council is benefiting from that will include a drainage component and so what we will be doing is that all the streets that have been concreted, we are going back over those streets, we have done an assessment and we have identified 25 of those streets that will require drainage; for example, along streets like Jasmine, Flamboyant, Oleander and Tibruce; these are streets between Mahogany and the river. We are looking at those streets to put in very nice v-shaped drains; we are also unveiling a project in relation to 17 streets in the south side like Louise Bevans Street, street that people constantly clamor about; they are not a part of the hundred streets. On each of these streets we have an estimate and on none of these streets, we will be putting less than forty loads of hard core material. We will be digging out the drains and all of these streets will get culverts and we will put culverts across the street and put hard core material and we are rolling all of these streets and these should take us about six weeks.”
And while the works on the streets are expected to be completed by the end of this year, the BTL Park will not be ready for re-opening for December 7 as planned. But Mayor Bradley says that the newly retrofitted and modernized park will be ready in time for Christmas and the re-opening will be with a bang.
“The BTL Park sadly, will be delayed. This is something that was precipitated by the rains; we have had four weeks of continuous rains. We wanted to launch the park on the 7th December, we have had to meet with stakeholders, we have had to meet with park vendors and we are communicating with the contractor and they have made a recommendation to us to delay the launch of the park to the 20th December. We have already finalized works in terms of having fireworks display, we are contracting a company out of Guatemala who will do a very nice show for us; we have engaged an artist from Jamaica, DeMarco who will come in to Belize for the performance, he has a lot of new hits and he will perform toned down hits because it is a family event. We are getting a plethora of local artists to complement him. We are going to do our traditional Christmas tree lighting; we are going to put a tree there.”
As a part of the re-opening of the park, the Council will distribute gifts to 15 children. The Christmas tree lighting at the BTL Park, says Mayor Bradley, won’t interfere with the traditional downtown Christmas tree lighting, which is scheduled for this Friday.
“This is an activity that Bowen and Bowen company always does every year; it’s an activity that residents of Belize City always look forward to. Of course, Bowen and Bowen adopted the Mule Park, they invested all the costs in rebuilding Mule Park and uplifting it to its traditional look and that will be held this Friday. They will have Pantempers, people will be treated to Coca Cola; it’s going to be a nice activity. Bowen and Bowen will be having its tree lighting ceremony which is a 20-foot high Christmas tree; it’s an activity that children look forward to every year. The traffic situation will be a little tight this Friday because we will be closing down that area to vehicular traffic from four o’clock in the evening in preparation for the start of that activity and we expect that it will be a spectacular event.”
Meanwhile, on the issue of the absentee Councilor, Eric Chang, who left Belize for China in September and has not yet returned, Mayor Bradley says that within the next week or two, the Council will move to remove him as Councilor, ceasing his salary payments.
“One of the things that we are very mindful of is that we are going to have a council meeting next week and that will make the third meeting that Councillor Chang has missed which is unexcused and we have monthly meetings so, we expect that by December if he doesn’t return to the jurisdiction, he would have missed four meetings and then there are certain things that are triggered as a result of him not being in communication with us. We are mindful of those things and we are trying our best to ensure that the functions of the council continue in normalcy and we are also trying our best to reach out to him so that he indicates to us what the concern is. If he misses a certain amount of meetings unexplained, four meetings in terms of what the legislation says there are certain things that are triggered there in respect to his disqualification so that he would actually cease to be a councillor and if he ceases to be a councillor then he will not be paid as a councillor.”
Mayor Bradley says that while the Council has been functioning without Chang in office and it is not necessary, there would still have to be a bi-election to elect Chang’s replacement based on the law. We also asked the Mayor about the outstanding debt that the Council owes to Belize Waste Control to collect garbage.
“Going into the month of December, we are starting to see an increase in flows in terms of tax collection and what we do is we make accelerated payments. I had a meeting with Paula Griffith a few weeks ago and what we did to alleviate some of the tension is that we made three payments so that we could at least bring down the arrears situation; I think that we have, since then, made payments every single week.”
Belize City Mayor, Darrel Bradley.