|Caribbean Queen barge unloads at San Pedro Marina|
Last week, the saga continued into the controversy regarding barge
owners using the San Pedro Municipal Pier. After several attempts to
convince local businesses to move their barges to the new San Pedro
Marina failed, as a last resort, the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC)
officially closed the municipal pier on July 15th, 2004.
The decision to build a new marina came as a result of numerous
concerns regarding safety and noise pollution from the municipal pier.
An initial consultation between the previous Town Council
administration and the community was held October 2nd, 2001, which
started the ball rolling. However, it was not until March of 2003 that
an announcement was made by Mayor Elsa Paz and the SPTC that the Marina
was to be completed in June of that year.
At the official inauguration of the Marina on October 31st, 2003,
it was announced that proper lighting was still needed to complete the
project (scheduled to be finished by November 2003).
Since that time, the barge owners have refused to use the Marina.
At a meeting held in March of this year between themselves,
representatives of local government and Belize Ports Authority, barge
owners expressed that they had no desire to move until their concerns
regarding the channel at the new Marina were addressed.
Since the municipal pier continues to be "an eyesore" in San Pedro
Town, the SPTC was forced to find a solution to the problem. According
to San Pedro Town Administrator Patricia Verde, on May 31st, 2004, the
Town Council issued letters to all barge owners requesting them to move
their barges to the SP Marina by June 15th. However, due to the Dia de
San Pedro festivities, this deadline was extended. On Thursday, July
15th, 2004, barge owners received a final notice to vacate the
premises, immediately. At that point, the street leading to the pier
That same day, the Caribbean Queen freight service company made an
attempt to pass through the channel at the San Pedro Marina. Although
they experienced some difficulty, they did manage to unload their
cargo. In an interview with Ellis Eiley of the Caribbean Queen, he told
The San Pedro Sun that the channel was shallow and that some rocky
patches were witnessed that could damage barges trying to enter the
marina. Other areas of concern he mentioned were: 1) that the buoys at
the entrance of the Marina were not properly placed, 2) that the Marina
was not properly lit for use after dark, and 3) that the channel
entrance was still too narrow, making it impossible for a skiff to pass
at the same time a barge is entering.
Reportedly, the channel that was dredged to facilitate the entrance
and storage of barges and other large boats, was designed to be 200
feet long, 100 feet wide, 11-25 feet deep and 5,200 feet from the
entrance to the pier. As a result of the complaints posed by the barge
owners, Deputy Harbor Master Victor Castillo paid a visit to the Marina
on July 16th before meeting with Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr.
The aforementioned concerns were then reported to Ports Authority
Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones but as of press time on Tuesday, The San
Pedro Sun had not received a response to inquiries at the Ports
On July 19th, Krystal Shipping freight service attempted to use the
Marina as well and experienced difficulty when their barge hit rocks in
an area of the channel, which resulted in a hole at the bottom of their
Letters of complaint from both Krystal Shipping and the Caribbean
Queen were sent to the San Pedro Town Council, the Ministry of Finance,
and the Belize Port Authority. According to Area Representative Manuel
Heredia Jr., these will be taken into serious consideration before any
attempts are made to use the SP Marina again.
The San Pedro Town Council expressed their appreciation to barge
owners for making this effort to use the marina. They stated that, for
the time being, the San Pedro Municipal Pier would remain open.