The BDF's Sarstoon Forward Operating Base is in danger of collapsing into the sea. Major erosion, caused by strong tidal waves, was observed in the area two weeks ago. And due to it being unsafe, the eight soldiers usually manning the station have been temporarily relocated to the Barranco FOB until the damage can be repaired.

But, as Lieutenant Colonel Jermaine Burns explained today, it's not so easy, nor is it cheap. He explained that they're working on a proposal that can hopefully be completed in a short span of time. In the meanwhile, the soldiers will have to move back and forth from Sarstoon to Barranco.

He told us more via Zoom with some footage from PGTV.

Lt. Col. Jermaine Burns
"The day they went to the FOB, they observed where nature has been taking its course in respect to the destruction along the coast line itself. When the FOB was placed in that area, a concern had come out in the EIA that was conducted that there may be some erosion concerns that would come to be after a certain amount of years and so we put in some mitigating efforts but over the years, the erosion got so bad, and it was anticipated to get so bad, that the water itself started to get all the way under the actual FOB and so the ground as it may under the FOB started disintegrating. And so the first two pillars that holds the FOB is in threat and so the building is practically leaning and so with that, it was deemed that it is no longer as safe as we want it to be for our soldiers and that we want an engineer that would have the capacity and the understanding to go out there before we start thinking about what we're going to do to repair it."

"They've been relocated 15 minutes north which is the Coast Guard base in Barranco Village. We have been working hand in hand with the Coast Guard who are in Barranco and if you remember all the way back in 2016, they were initially working along with us at the FOB."

"During the day time, from six to six, we would venture to the FOB and the soldiers would remain there and then in the night time we would return to Barranco."

"That is not to say if for some reason we need to respond up the river, after 6 in the evening or before 6 in the morning, that we wouldn't have the capacity to do it but we wouldn't want to be operating out of that particular building until it's deemed safe."

"The length of time would depend on the type of fix. We wouldn't want to be in this situation six months from now, a year from now, and so I am the one responsible to put together the operating concept for something that works, immediately, something that works in the medium term, and something long term and so we want an immediate fix, it may mean that the building has to be moved a little more to the west, bit of land clearing and so on, but in the medium term and long term, we'd need to put up some sort of seawall and because of the remote area that this FOB is in, that seawall is going to be pretty expensive."

"We're going to propose to our government and see where we go form there and where the funds are going to be allotted, we'll work within that room."

But what does that mean for the Sarstoon FOB? Is there any danger since there will no longer be a 24 hour patrol? We asked Lieutenant Colonel Burns about this.

Lt. Col. Jermaine Burns
"If you'd recall why the FOB was placed there in the first place it's because we were having a bit of tension with the Guatemalan forces at the time, this whole Sarstoon island conundrum and the issue of whether they can come on our side or they can show presence mid river and that sort of thing and we were in a bit of a back and forth. Times have changes since then, we have been conducted bilateral meetings with the Guatemalan Armed Forces now, even more so than before, I know at the battalion level, Punta Gorda, Toledo District meets with the GAF on a monthly basis."

"The friction is no longer in existence, we've come to some sort of understanding that you stay on your side, we'll stay on our side, we both have some sort of responsibilities on either side and where we're affected by maybe an individual commander wandering around, to say, the Sarstoon Island, we would address it in these monthly meetings."

"We don't have that tension anymore, so we don't anticipate any of the sort of threat. However, what we are primarily doing out there now other than maintaining our sovereignty of course is looking for transnational organized criminals that are operating in that Sarstoon. You'd remember now that this area is masked by a whole lot of drug plane landing in the vicinity and so we're responding to those, jointly with the Guatemalan Forces on their side and we share information from time to time, but also illegal fishing, illegal immigration, or any human smuggling from that area, we're able to encapsulate. The thing is, from Barranco to Sarstoon is only about 15 minutes depending on what type of boat we're in or the condition of the sea and so we don't see it as a significant issue to respond so long as the soldiers are out there during the day time. They should be able to operate as effectively, and during the night time when there is a threat of an airplane coming or so and we'd want to have presence in the river, then we'd just have to move at night from Barranco. So that would be our launchpad for now."

And it's not just Belize's side, the GAF base across the river is experiencing the opposite effect. PGTV's Will Maheia tells us that "they gained so much land their boat can even reach their base."

Apparently, the currents shift from time to time and, this time, it seems like a lot of the sand got washed to the Guatemalan side.

Channel 7