No permanent fix for Coconut Drive in near future

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 46            December 14, 2000

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Much has been said about the street conditions in some areas of San Pedro Town. Needless to say, the most talked about is an area on Coconut Drive that becomes almost impassable when it rains. Although this is the main concern of many residents of San Pedro, other areas in town also suffer a great deal when it rains. To let the people know more about what is being done to get the situation under control, the San Pedro Sun met with Mayor Alberto Nuñez to find out the Town Council's plans.

    Mayor Nuñez mentioned that although there is great concern about the area involving Coconut Drive by Ramon's Village, the process of acquiring funds to fix this area is a long one. Already some attempts have been made to get Central Government interested in this matter. Area Representative Patty Arceo has personally presented this problem to Cabinet, including pictures of this disastrous street. After the Hurricane Reconstruction Facility Fund was installed, the San Pedro Town Council thought that finally the situation was going to be remedied. Instead, the Ministry of Works took matters into their own hands, found a contractor, analyzed the situation and made the recommendations they thought suitable. This was reportedly done without proper consultation from Town Council, the Mayor or Area Representative.

    Earlier this week in Washington, DC, Minister Fonseca signed a $13 million loan agreement with the World Bank for drainage and street projects in all municipalities. Once again, San Pedro was not included in this plan and no funds were allocated for this Coconut Drive area that is in dire need of reconstruction. Mayor Nuñez mentioned that a temporary solution will be put into effect. Mid South Investment Co. Ltd., from Dangriga, has signed a $586,000 contract with the Ministry of Works to upgrade this area and three other roads in the Boca del Rio and San Pedrito areas. The World Bank is financing this program which calls for repairs only, thus no permanent drainage will be installed at the moment. With the help of the business community in that area, the Mayor hopes that an extension of the cobblestone street will be included in the near future.

    The main concern of many residents was why the San Pedro Town Council opted to first install drainage on three streets in town rather than Coconut Drive which, in the eyes of many, is the area most affected. To put this question to rest, Mayor Nuñez said that this was a plan that had been ongoing for over a year and a half before it was approved by Ministry of Works. After the plans were approved, the funds which had been set aside for that specific area could not be transferred because of the many requirements from the Ministry of Works. A little over $100,000 was spent in this area.

    Another concern is why the business community in the area of Coconut Drive is being asked for assistance to repair the streets while the businesses in the areas in town were not. The Mayor stated that at no time had they solicited funds from the businesses of Coconut Drive. During the first repairs, involving the area from Tropic Air to TMM, it was the business community that offered financial aid. Although these donations were welcomed, he reiterated that San Pedro Town Council had not solicited funds from these businesses for the project.

    In related news, Mayor Nuñez mentioned that the renovation of the main pier has also been approved. The San Pedro Town Council has been lobbying for the past two years for this. Nevertheless, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has assured them that by January the project will be ready to commence. Already a consultant has been selected and will be submitted to CDB for approval. The consultant will then solicit a contractor for the project to commence in January.
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