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.