MultiMillion Dollar Facility for Each District Town
The Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) currently has six projects at the design stage and one project already under construction. BIL is a public sector agency of the Government to manage the design and construction of capital projects in Belize with particular emphasis on sporting and other multipurpose facilities. Prime Minister Barrow has pledged that each district town will see an investment of at least $5 million in public facilities. According to Christy Mastry, General Manager of BIL, the municipalities that have already submitted their projects are Belmopan City, San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town, Benque Viejo Town, San Pedro Town and Belize City.
In Belmopan City the Isidoro Football Stadium will be renovated to world class standards. The field will be upgraded; a main building will be constructed and the complex will be fenced. Proper lighting will be installed as well as bleachers, home and away restrooms, concession stands and a parking lot. The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million and construction will commence in September of 2014.
Construction is already underway on Falcon Field in San Ignacio Town. This is a roofed, outdoor court facility with restrooms and a refurbished stage. The facility will also feature a playground, sidewalks and a bus stop. Completion date is set at October, 2014 and the estimated cost of the project is $850,000. Also in San Ignacio, the Victor Galvez Recreation Field will be upgraded at a cost of more than $1.3 million. The facility will include outdoor court facilities, a practice and recreation football field, outdoor track and amenities. Construction will start in September of 2014.
Two football fields will be built in Santa Elena at the Victor August Football Stadium. One will be a practice and recreation field that is always open to the public. The other will be a game field for organized competition. This field will be built to meet FIFA standard and will be able to hold 4,000 fans. There will be proper drainage, parking, restrooms, lighting and other amenities. The estimated cost is $2.25 million and construction will commence in October of 2014.
The Benque Viejo Del Carmen Football Complex and Facilities will be upgraded to FIFA standard. There will be a FIFA certified field and main building with concession area. Quality bleachers will be inserted as well as lighting and home and away restrooms. There will be proper drainage, parking, fencing and free space. Construction will commence in December of 2014 and will cost approximately $4.5 million.
Belize will have its first synthetic turf field in San Pedro Town for the San Pedro Football Field. Mastry points to the difficulty in growing grass on the island and says this is a viable option. The facilty will include a full synthetic turf play field with proper lighting, bleachers and a main building. The complex will be fully fenced and there will be proper parking and road access. The design is still in progress and a construction date has not been set as yet. It is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of $3.25 million.
In Belize City the signature project is the Belize City Center which will be a national basketball and multipurpose facility. It will include a FIBA standard center court where basketball and volleyball will be played. It will include office spaces, locker rooms, stage and service area, concession stands, restrooms, training facilities, media and ticketing boxes. The facility will be properly fenced with parking and a waterfront plaza. The City Center is at the design stage being drafted by Anthony Thurton and Associates. A total of $25 million has been airmarked for construction.
Projects for Dangriga and Punta Gorda are at the design stage. Prime Minister Barrow says he will fast-track the financing for those municipalities.
BELIZE INFRASTRUCTURE LIMITED (BIL) Ė What it is? How it works? Who it serves?
In 2012 The Government of Belize (GOB) decided to form a public company to act as an agent of the GOB to undertake the design, construction and management of capital projects in Belize. At that time particular emphasis was placed on sporting and other multipurpose facilities in order to find an efficient conduit to undertake the largest of sporting projects, the rebuilding of the Belize City Center. A key driving force behind the GOBís action was to also ensure that each municipality received at least one proper, functioning sporting or multipurpose facility to serve the needs of the community for sport and recreational activities. The company established was Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL). Its mandate would be to act as the executing agency with the overall responsibility to bring each project to fruition, from start to finish.
The company officially got underway in late 2013 where the process began with engaging each municipality in the assessment of their needs and guiding them in the repurposing process for their current sport facilities or assisting them in envisioning new facilities to fill certain gaps within their sporting services. BIL would then create the Terms of Reference for the project envisioned in order to procure the design team. Once the design was complete, BIL would continue to procure the construction team and follow through with the assisted supervision and necessary project management.
The decision of the GOB to employ this execution model came from the realization that creating an independent company with international procurement operational standards would allow the process to function outside the immediate realm of government interventions and bureaucracy. It would function with the full transparency, efficiency, quality and competitiveness of any private sector company and most importantly would function with expediency.
Sporting was chosen as the first set of infrastructure investments for several reasons. At its most basic level of community intervention, it aims to keep the youth engaged in activities they enjoy with the hope of diminishing street presence and eventual crime reduction. The collateral benefit of this however, is the realization that the country has an extremely talented pool of athletes, primarily in both football and basketball, with no venue or platform to practice, display and perfect their craft. Not only does this investment create venues for engaging community activities, providing centers for events and bringing the public together for meaningful interaction, but it allows Belize to start to realize its talent on the global scale should we invest in our young athletes and for the first time allow them access to facilities of international standards to heighten their competition play. It becomes an investment in far more than pieces of beautiful infrastructure. With the right coaching, management and maintenance these investments can become training grounds for competitive futures as well as community centers for social interaction, promoting the socialization we need in our public spaces.
Several projects have since been started with the procurement of designs for six different projects in four different municipalities to date, and both Dangriga and Punta Gorda soon to follow. Falcon Field in San Ignacio is already under construction and several shortly behind, with no less than six projects targeted for construction start before the end of the year.
With the GOB actively focusing on capital investments not only as service infrastructure, but now seeking to fill certain gaps with revenue generating infrastructure facilities, BIL will also assist as the agent to undertake both planning and infrastructure works in new areas of development for the GOB. With the most recent decision to bring the development of the Chetumal Street extension under the BIL portfolio, the goal is to start to provide a link between public development and private opportunities in sustainable partnerships for investment. It is breaking ground into the realm of public-private partnerships, a model new to Belize and still emerging timidly in many developing countries, but the only way to know if we can succeed is if we start to try.