BTL initiates permanent improvement

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 44            November 30, 2000

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Workers dig trench on Coconut Drive for underground cable

Most of the people of the island were surprised Tuesday to see streets in their areas being dug up and large orange pipes installed. Upon investigation into the matter, the San Pedro Sun discovered this to be a project undertaken by Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) to permanently improve service to the island.

    This newspaper learned that discussions have been going on since Hurricane Keith between BTL, the National Emergency Management Organization and San Pedro Town Council to minimize damage to communications in the event of another disaster. The solution was to install waterproof, underground cables to service the island. Although a very costly project for BTL, this will be a "temporary inconvenience for a permanent solution," to the problems Ambergris Caye experienced after the hurricane.

    According to sources at BTL, there are three phases to the plan. Phase I is the infrastructure in which the pipeline is laid for the cable. These will follow alongside water and sewer lines and up to a thousand manholes will be located to service connections. Only small sections at a time will be dug so pipes can be installed and covered quickly to avoid any inconvenience to homeowners and travelers. Only manholes will be left open for any length of time and it was guaranteed these would be heavily barricaded and lit for safety. Contractors must cover manholes within a maximum two to three day period. This newspaper was further informed that the cost of the underground pipe and cable connection from the street to the customer home or office will be at BTL's expense.

    Phase II will involve feeding cables through the lines and connecting them. No interruption of service is anticipated with the first two phases. Phase III will be the actual connection of the new cable to your "in-house" service. BTL personnel claim that they will be contacting customers to schedule connections to avoid inconveniences.     

    Speaking with Inspector Clifford Cooke, he reported that inspectors are on hand to supervise the job contractors and crews do, ensuring work is performed according to BTL standards. Foreman Simeon Montero told the Sun that crews (his consisted of 34 men) are working every day and trenches dug will be covered over before dark. His crew, under contractor Junior Thomas, will be servicing the area between the airstrip and San Pablo before moving over to the San Pedrito area. Other areas, such as  BTL to Boca del Rio and the downtown area, will be covered by additional contractors and crews.

    None of the people interviewed wanted to estimate when this project would be completed. At press time, BTL had issued no releases on the subject.
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