San Pedro Telephone Exchange building, long long ago
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Saturday February 10, 2018

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San Pedro Telephone Exchange building, long long ago

The information below is by Hector Silva

Up to the mid 1950's, Belize was still experiencing a very poor communication system. All districts were connected by land-lines and a magneto operated telephone system. There were hardly any private phones much less mobile phones. For a person to communicate, say between San Ignacio and Belize City, one had to catch the line at the telephone exchange and request to make a call. Our very courteous operators Don Jorge Awe, Ermilio Zetina, Daddy Waight and others would wind the handle of the apparatus and ask for Mrs. Roland in Roaring Creek, who would attempt to get Mr. Sebastian in Burrel Boom and maybe you would get the Belize City exchange. This of course depended on the condition of the weather. The telephone was a magneto type, operated through Land Lines, which was introduced in 1907 and operated in the Cayo District until the late 1950's. The Western Electric number 317 megneto wall phones were introduced in 1907 and remained in production for about thirty years. The model number remained the same however, many changes were seen in the phone through the years.

In 1965, I was honored by making the "FIRST INTERNATIONAL TELEPHONE CALL" ever made from Belize to the Outer World. I called my counter part in Jamaica, The Hon Minister of Communications.

These services were provided by the Self Government of Belize, through an arrangement with The British Company Cable & Wire Less.

Seated along with me at the Ladyville Station were the President of Cable and Wireless from the United Kingdom, The C&W Local Manager, my Permanent Secretary, Samuel Boisy Smith and of course a large audience

When I was young, my Dad used to send me to place Orders from the Commercial Houses in Belize City, for goods for the FARM.--Those goods would be sent by River Boat,

I would reach San Ignacio, and go direct to the Telephone Office. - I would greet Don Jorge Awe, the Operator, and wait for my TURN. - After an hour or so, Don Jorge would call me to enter the closed PHONE BOOTH.

And so the process started.

Don Jorge voice.-" HALLO, HALLO. Roaring Creek, Miss Roland, put me on to Mr Sebastian at Burrell Boom.

Don Jorge voice - " Mr Sebastian, please put me on to the Operator in Belize City.

Don Jorge voice.-" HALLO Operator, put me on to Guy Nord Store.

SO I WOULD make my order and ask Don Jorge for Brodies.

BUT when I wanted to call Melhado and Sons, a rain started, SO THE LINE WENT DEAD.

Don Jorge would announce, " SORRY, THIS IS IT FOR TODAY, Come tomorrow.

( So upon becoming the Minister Communications, the first thing I remembered was my ORDEAL EVERY MONTH, at that phone booth, as you can see in the picture below

SO WE ENTERED IN NEGOTIATION WITH THE GIANT CABLE & WIRELESS COMPANY of England, WHO INTRODUCED THE MODERN TELEPHONE for Belize.


The story of Belize Telemedia from the beginnin

g

by Hector Silva

So many Belizeans are being treated to a story of the unknown. YES, the story of our telephone system from its begining

In the early nineteen hundreds , the British colonizers saw it fit to install a line of communication in the Colony of British Honduras.- The purpose was to facilitate the Mahogany contractors and Chicle extractors in their operations in the interior.

The first telephone system was a Magneto type on land lines from post to post.and from station to station. -

EXAMPLE. - - The line from San Ignacio was quartered near the Police Station. - This had two relays. - the First at Roaring Creek Village. and the second at Burrel Boom and the Central was at the rear of the present Belize City Council Hall. .

In the early 1960's the PUP Government invited Cable and Wireless from England to operate a modern telephone system in British Hon- duras Belize. - By 1964, on the attainment of Full Internal Self Go- vernment, Cable and Wireless had fully installed a Local and a Fo- reign DIAL SYSTEM.

As Minister of Communication, I had the pleasure of inaugurating the modern system, stationed at Mile 11, Ladyville.

My first call was to my my friend, the Hon. Cleveland Lewis, Minister of Communication of Jamaica.- This was followed with calls to the United Kingdom and other countries.-

This system served us well for many years, thanks to Cable and Wireless and our able Supervising Engineer, Mr. Lester Young. RIP.

Sometimes in the 1990's, Cable and Wireless informed the then Go- vernment of their intention to retire themselves from operating this system. -

So the government took over the operation, until invitations were opened to bidders.

ENTERED ( or appeared ) Lord Michael Ashcroft, who accepted to take the venture. - Negotiations were made, accommodation Agree ments ere provided and so the NEW DANCE BEGAN.

The TUNE was the same, but the dancers were interchanged. as time went bye. - After a few years, Lord Ashcroft lost interest in the venture and Government buy it over.

ENTERED " Intelco Telephone Project ) . a project initiated by Mr.. Glenn Godfrey, a former PUP Minister of Government. - -He was af- forded large sums of Loan Finances from .Government Loan Agen- cies, - But Telemedia would not give him an Inter Connection, - - So INTELCO debunked..

ENTERED PROSSER, a man recommended by famous Sir Shredda Ramphall . - Prosser had no money and could not pay. Prosser re- fused to give back BTL to government..Therefore in 2005 Govern- ment passed a House Bill changing the name BTL ( Belize Telecom- munications Limited, -to Belize Telemedia. -I was then a Senator, but upon reading the Bill, I could not in all my conscience sit at that Se- nate meeting. -So Mr Anthony Channona substituted me. - I am told that he Mr Channona likewise recused himself.

SO LORD ASHCROFT ENTERED the race again and bought Belize Telemedia. - - For some reason or the other, in 2009, The Lord fell in disgrace with the UDP Government. - So a new fight began. - The UDP Government decided to ACQUIRE Belize Telemedia from Lord Ashcroft.

AGAIN, in 2009, I sat as a Senator. - BUT, When I read the Bill to Acquire, I referred to Section 17, of the Belize Constitution, which states, that to acquire a PRIVATE PROPERTY you MUST DO the following.

(a) - Notify the owner for what purpose you are acquiring.

(b) - Arrive at an agreed monetary offer of payment.

(3) - Come to an agreement the date of payment.

(4) - MAKE THE PAYMENT.

None of this was done. - - -BUT time dragged for seven years, thus accruing INTEREST pan top a INTEREST to reach the hefty sum of over $500.000.000 Million Dollars and counting..

Had this acquisition been paid, when it was acquired, the MOST Government would have paid would have been less than $200, 000, 000 .Million Dollars.

THIS IS A STORY THAT I WITNESSED FROM ITS BEGINING AS A LAND LINE to the present DEBACLE ( for history's sake. )

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