Civic improvements put on hold - pending release of funds by GOB

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 33            September 15, 2004

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The recent government restructuring has had wide spread affects on the country of Belize. In San Pedro, the most notable effect is the postponement of two very needed civic improvements: the paving of Pescador Drive and the infrastructure changes (such as channel depths, buoys, etc.) at the San Pedro Marina.

    The Pescador Drive cobblestone project has been a joint effort between the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), the San Pedro Citizens Committee (SPCC) and the Government of Belize (GOB). Each entity had it own share of responsibilities: SPTC was forwarded money to purchase cobblestones, SPCC tendered bids for a contractor, and GOB was to finance the project.  

    In Volume 14, Number 8 of The San Pedro Sun, Mayor Elsa Paz stated that the Ministry of Works had provided a portion of the funds budgeted to upgrade the island's streets. Once the cobblestones were purchased by the SPTC, the bricks would be laid by the end of March or beginning of April.

    Although cobblestones were purchased by the end of April, it was not until July 6th, 2004, (two months after the project was scheduled to begin) when SPCC received a media advertisement containing an invitation asking interested contractors to send in their bids. After that, the Ministry of Works handled the bidding and hired a company to carry out the project. According to Chief Engineer Cadet Henderson of the Ministry of Works, many projects have been put on hold waiting for the Ministry of Finance to release funds, but the money for the Pescador Drive project should available in two months.

    It appears that the same story is being told regarding the improvements to the San Pedro Marina. At the official inauguration of the Marina on October 31st, 2003, it was announced that the installation of proper lighting was needed to complete the project (scheduled to be finished by November 2003). On May 31st, 2004, the SPTC issued letters to all barge owners requesting them to move their barges to the San Pedro Marina by June 15th. When the barges owners attempted to enter the channel to the marina though, they found serious difficulties, which resulted in damage to their equipment. A letter was written to the Ministry of Works and the Belize Ports Authority requesting improvements be made to the marina before any other attempts to enter the channel be made.

    Soon after, The San Pedro Sun spoke to Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones who agreed with these changes. He stated that in order to make these improvements, authorization and further financial assistance was required from the Ministry of Finance, so a meeting was held. However, due to reshuffling in the Government of Belize on August 18th, 2004, another meeting had to be scheduled with the new Minister of Finance and his Ministers of State prior to getting approval.

    On the "up side," resurfacing of the Caye Caulker Airstrip should be underway soon.

    On the "down side," San Pedro residents and visitors will need to "bite the bullet" and put up with heavy equipment and potholes.
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